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Latino Resources, a nonprofit organization founded by Latinos to “serve the Evanston community and beyond,” is a Bilingual Network Agency. Elena Garcia Ansani, Civic Engagement chair, explained to the RoundTable how Latino Resources has emerged from the Evanston Coalition for Latino Resources and is evolving into an operational nonprofit Latino organization and described some of its plans for the next few months.
The goals of Latino Resources are to ensure that Latinos are adequately informed about community resources; to promote increased Latino participation within community programs and services and to provide bilingual support for Latinos and community service partners. Demographic information shows that the areas of greatest Latino concentration are near the Dempster/Dodge and Chicago/Main Street areas and, more broadly, in the Second, Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth wards.
Language barriers and insufficient information limit opportunities for Latinos in the Evanston community, said Ms. Garcia Ansani, speaking for Latino Resources. Its vision, then, is to ensure that all Latinos have accessible and equitable information about education, health, housing and immigration rights. Its mission follows: to build networks of support through bilingual services and community partnerships; and to promote full civic participation by Latinos living within the North Suburban Cook County area, she says.
The strategic plan of this fledgling organization includes partnership, participation and recruitment, said Ms. Garcia Ansani. Its first partnership will be with the City of Evanston and, in particular, with the Evanston Public Library to establish a Latino Resources outreach post from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturdays at the Chicago Avenue/Main Street Branch (formerly “The Twig”). The Evanston Community Foundation and Leadership Evanston have been very supportive, she says. The two biggest Latino “hubs” have been Washington School and St. Nicholas parish. Father Bob Oldershaw, pastor emeritus at St. Nick’s, is considered a “friend, mentor, and confidant” to the Latino community, she said.
Along with renewing partnerships with St. Nicholas parish, District 65, District 202 and others, Latino Resources plans to promote increased Latino participation within community programs and services; recruit Latino leaders within the community to increase the network of bilingual services; conduct Latino outreach information sessions in cooperation with City government, educational institutions and community-based organizations; and to collect and analyze data to study the efficacy of Latino Resource deliverables.
Latino Resources has already taken three steps toward providing bilingual support for Latinos and service providers: It has become an associate member of the American Translators Association; it will develop a directory of certified translators/interpreters; and it will introduce its bilingual support programs during it August quarterly meeting. The organization plans to expand its board of directors before the end of the year, with an eye toward recruiting new members with expertise in fund development, human resources, information technology, business management, marketing and graphic design. Specific near-term goals are to lease space for a Latino Resources headquarters and to hire an executive director.
Ms. Ansani said one of her hopes is to coordinate the efforts of organizations that have historically been promoting Latino inclusion and investment in Evanston and beyond. She spoke highly of the work done by the James Moran Center in Evanston. The organization wants to emphasize Latino youth development through closer linkages with what she describes as being the key “authority figures” in Evanston that include parents, the administrations of Districts 65 and 202, and the Evanston Police Department. Conversely, the organization wants to assist Latino youth in avoiding negative influences within the community that are typically associated with “drugs, guns, and gangs,” she says.
Ms. Garcia Ansani closed the interview by emphasizing that Latino Resources’ objectives were developed with a close eye on the larger Evanston community. Although its emphasis is on the Latino population, she said that the organization is committed to work for the benefit of the entire Evanston community- “For all of us.”
The board of directors includes Aracely Conchola, president and education committee chair; Heather Bourgeois, secretary and health and wellness committee chair; Robert Ansani, treasurer and legal counsel; Elena Garcia Ansani, civic engagement chair; and Terry Soto, public relations committee chair.
The organization has developed a website, LatinoResources.org, and Ms. Ansani can be reached directly at 847-675-0075.