April eNews - El Centro de la Raza


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Estmad@ Amig@ {FIRST_NAME},

Martin Luther King Jr. County, along with the other 38 counties of Washington, has begun to implement the federal program - Secure Communities. Governor Gregoire and State Patrol had declined to mandate this law in our state and left it up to the counties to decide to opt into the program. Law enforcement agencies were aware they had until the end of next year to opt into the program.

The Secure Communities Program (SComm) is a Department of Homeland Security program designed to “identify immigrants in U.S. jails who are deportable under immigration law…participating jails submit arrestees’ fingerprints not only to criminal databases, but to immigration databases as well, allowing ICE access to information on individuals held in jails.”

SComm only works when local jurisdictions like King County choose to honor all ICE holds. ICE holds, also known as immigration detainers, are the lynchpin of programs like SComm. An ICE hold is a request from ICE to the King County Jail to hold a community member in the jail's custody for 48 hours longer than it otherwise would. The jail holds community members so ICE can pick them up.  ICE holds are not mandatory and King County is not legally required to comply with them.²

State and local officials have criticized the complete disconnect between SComm stated target – serious convicted criminals – and ICE’s own data, which show that the vast majority of people deported through SComm have no, or very minor, criminal convictions.

Contact your King County Council member today! Find your council member and tell them:

  • Keep King County out of immigration enforcement!
  • SComm will not and does not solve our country's immigration issues!
  • Protect our county's residents, do not be complicit in tearing apart our families!
Please cc. Dow Constantine, the King County Executive, in your email: kcexec@kingcounty.gov.

Click here for more information on the Secure Communities Program.

Siempre bienvenidos, nuestra casa es su casa.
Estela resized 2
Estela Ortega
Executive Director

P.S. - And of course, visit our website to stay up-to-date on the happenings at El Centro and in nuestra comunidad - our community.

New Parking Lot Now Open
at El Centro de la Raza!

El Centro has opened its temporary light rail parking lot to the public located at 2524 16th Ave S in Seattle next to the Beacon Hill Light Rail Station. The lot is minutes from downtown and the stadiums for Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners games! Proceeds benefit El Centro’s 33 human services and community building programs. Please call (206) 957-4603 or email facilities@elcentrodelaraza.org for monthly parking passes, and see our rates below.
Parking Lot Rate Box 2

ParkinglotvolunteersA special gracias must go out to those members of the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters Union who generously volunteered their time on Saturday, April 14th. They came out early on Saturday to install the concrete bumpers in the lot. It was hard work and much appreciated. The help and friendship that PNWRCC have given El Centro has been wonderful. Thank you Ruperto Gomez, Jimmy Matta, Evelyn Shapiro O'Connor, Michael Reyes, James Saenz, Pedro Espinoza, and Jamal Middlebrooks.

Volunteer on April 21st
Comcast Cares Day at El Centro de la Raza!

comcast20cares20logo2Last year more than 2,200 Washington Comcasters volunteered their time to help improve the buildings, grounds and more at 12 locations around the state. El Centro had the privilege to be among these 12 locations, and we had a total of 292 volunteers work for a total of 2,213 hours last April at this event.

El Centro de la Raza has been selected again this year as a site for Comcast Cares Day. In addition to the Comcast volunteers who will be present, we're looking for individual volunteers like you to come help out!

If you're interested in helping out, please contact Josh Stromberg, Volunteer Coordinator at (206) 957-4602 or volunteer@elcentrodelaraza.org

Origins of Earth Day - April 22nd

World smallThe first Earth Day was held on April 22nd 1970 and was the creation of Senator Gaylord Nelson. Ever since then, we have taken time on April 22nd to celebrate, reflect, and take action towards protecting the environment.  Senator Nelson actually announced the plans for Earth Day right here in Seattle in 1969 – calling it “a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment.”  As the years have gone by, Earth Day has become an even larger event that Senator Nelson could have predicted. Take some time during this month to reflect and appreciate what nature has to offer while thinking about how you can give back to our world and the environment.

National Volunteer Week

Cinco de Mayo 2011 by Erika Berg (152)In acknowledgment of National Volunteer Week, El Centro would like thank all our amazing volunteers and let you know how much your work makes a difference to our organization.  The work that you provide as a volunteer at El Centro de la Raza is an invaluable service which allows us to continue providing our programs and services to the community. Your actions are the source of our inspiration as your work strengthens our society by bringing people, communities and cultures together and encouraging future generations to take action in their community. We acknowledge that the task of protecting human dignity and achieving noble goals such as eradicating poverty, hunger, intolerance, discrimination and other threats to human dignity would be impossible without the energy and dedication of volunteers like you.

In 2011 over 1,200 volunteers provided a total of 28,516 hours of service to El Centro! According to national estimates on the monetary value of volunteer hours, that means your volunteer hours saved El Centro a total of $621,374 dollars in 2011!!! This year alone we have already recorded over 5,500 hours of volunteer service. Your work saves our organization hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, completing projects from interpreting, web development, distributing food and mentoring youth.
Mil gracias!

Police Accountabilty
Sign Email Petition Today

SPD jobsThe Minority Executive Directors Coalitions’ Multi-racial Task Force on Police Accountability (MTFPA) believes the Mayor’s recently released policy reforms are a good start; it is our position that the proposals only partially reflect and address the MTFPA’s recommendations. In addition, the MTFPA believes that meaningful reform will only be accomplished if the Mayor, City Council, and Justice Department agree to a consent decree with a monitor. The Mayor and City Council have been going back forth with the DOJ for months on how to implement reforms. Talking about reform has only wasted time - click here to send an email petition to say: talking is not enough, and that a consent decree is needed as a crucial step to ensure lasting reform will be implemented.

Open House on the Redevelopment
of Our South Parking Lot

On Saturday, April 28th from 10:00am to noon El Centro de la Raza will hold a community open house to highlight the design team finalists for the redevelopment of our south parking lot into a vibrant transit oriented development mixed-use building. As part of the competition for the project these finalists will present initial site concepts based on feedback from last year’s community meeting and El Centro’s program needs. All are welcome. Lunch, translation services and childcare will be provided. Please RSVP by noon on April 27th to (206) 957-4605 or execasst@elcentrodelaraza.org for lunch planning purposes.

May Day March for Immigrant and Workers Rights

The 2012 May Day March for Immigrant and Workers Rights is coming up soon on May 1st from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Organized by El Comite Pro-Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social, the march will begin at Judkins Park. Stand for justice by joining in solidarity with the many immigrants and workers whose rights are often repressed. For more information, email El Comite Pro-Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social here: info@elcomitewa.org.

Also on May 1st, from 9 am-4pm at Westlake Park, Hip Hop Occupies to Decolonize will be presenting Rise and Decolonize II. The event will feature music, live art, dance, cypher sessions, and more in the spirit of Hip Hop and creative resistance in remembrance of Trayvon Marvin, Rekia Boyd, Shaima Alawai, Rhamarley Graham, Kenneth Camberlin Sr., Wendell Allen, John T. Williams, and all those whose lives were lost to systemic injustice. For more information about Rise and Decolonize II, please click here http://www.hiphopoccupies.com/.

Veteran Spotlight

The Veterans Program at El Centro does many things for its participants.  Sometimes we help Veterans and their families by answering basic questions and other times we get involved by helping to review their individual claims with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).  Chris is a participant that felt that he wasn’t getting the full amount of what he could be getting from the VA.  So, he became involved with the Veterans Program at El Centro de la Raza in November 2011.  After reviewing his VA documents with an Accredited VA Agent, we realized that errors were made in determining his case.  After the proper steps and documentation was provided to the VA, in March 2012 he was awarded with a backdated payment of $10,000, and received a service connection rating from 20% to 60%.   

Chris said, “I can’t thank you guys enough.  You were the first to listen and get involved in my case.  Thank you.”

If you’re a Veteran, or know one that you think we can help or provides assistance to in the following areas:

  •  VA Medical Claims/Appeals, Counseling for PTSD, Depression
  •  Homelessness Prevention, Veterans/Dependant Educational Benefits
  •  Resume/Job Placement Programs, Survivor Benefits
  •  Foreclosure Prevention, Parent involvement and Education
We are here to help! Please contact us for further information at Sergio Camacho (206) 957-4624 or Alfredo Medina (206) 973-4287. For more information about the African American Veterans Program, contact Aries Robinson (206) 659-0684 or Andrea Salmon (206) 457-8901.

Cinco De Mayo Celebration
& Financial Sum-It Up Workshops

Cinco de Mayo 2012 Poster 11x17 4On Saturday, May 5th El Centro de la Raza will present its 7th Annual Cinco de Mayo Celebration from 1-5 PM outside El Centro de la Raza (2524 16th Ave S, Seattle). Festivities include music, children's activities, prizes, craft and informational booths, and traditional Mexican food for sale. We will feature performances by Ameyaltonal Danza Azteca, Ofelia Alanis-Torres, Seattle Fandango Project, Seattle Mariachi Azteca and a desfile cultural. Please RSVP at (206) 957-4605 or at www.facebook.com/elcentro72. For more information click here.

Join us for the Financial Sum-It!

From 10 AM - 12:45 PM, free bilingual Financial Sum-It Workshops will take place inside El Centro de la Raza. Workshops covering topics such as College Readiness, Identity Theft and Fraud, Home Buying, and Your Consumer Rights.
To register please contact Matthew Driscoll at (206) 957-4646 or at FinLiteracy@elcentrodelaraza.org In each workshop you have the opportunity to win a door prize of up to $250 in value!

These events are made possible by U.S. Bank and City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. Mil gracias a todos!

Calling for Nominations!
2nd Annual Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award

legacy logo 2Roberto’s life was dedicated to building the “Beloved Community” through multi-racial unity, and he deeply believed that poverty, racism and social inequity could only be eradicated if people of all races and backgrounds came together to do so.
It is in honor of Roberto and his legacy that the 2nd Annual Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award will recognize two individuals, a woman and a man, who have exemplified building the Beloved Community through multi-racial unity, and working to eliminate poverty, racism and social inequity.
Last years recipients( Dorry Elias-Garcia, Executive Director of the Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County; and Michael Ramos, Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle) demonstrated years of service on an impressive variety of issues and causes and continue to be examples of Roberto’s legacy.
To view the application please click here.
Deadline for application submission is Monday, July 9, (Roberto’s Birthday) 2012 at 5:00 pm Pacific Time.

Get Engaged in City Government
Deadline May 14th

Get EngagesBecome involved with Get Engaged! Seattle residents between the ages of 18-29 are eligible for the program and will have the opportunity to be placed on boards and commissions. Commissioners help shape policy decisions, make recommendations, and provide citizen participation in city government. Commissioners also have the opportunity to serve on committees such as: the arts commission, pedestrian advisory board, design commission, landmarks preservation board, and human rights commission.

Get Engaged is dedicated to advocating for youth voice in city affairs and to cultivating local leaders, especially those who have had limited opportunities to be involved in civics and community. Apply at getengagedseattle.org/apply. For more information, contact Roni Ayalla at rayalla@seattleymca.org or (206) 250-2456.
Nicaraguan Teachers Visit El Centro

                       teachers visit
On April 14th, El Centro was happy to welcome two Nicaraguan teachers, Martha Irene Lazo and Heylin Amarely Lopez. From Santo Tomas, the sister city of Olympia, Martha and Heylin compose the 10th delegation to visit Olympia and Lincoln Elementary school. The trip was sponsored by the Thurston-Santo Tomas Sister County Association (TSTSCA) and aims to promote solidarity and the exchange of ideas between the United States and Nicaragua

During their time at El Centro, Martha and Heylin generously told of the school system in Nicaragua, the challenges they face, and community and government responses to these challenges. The women’s commitment to their students at Rubén Darío was evident as they spoke of staying afterschool to tutor students, going to the homes of parents to teach them how to read, and organizing a free lunch program.

Since the 1970’s, El Centro has had a bond with Nicaragua. El Centro played a vital role in convincing Seattle City Council to adopt Managua as its sister city and when a devastating earthquake struck Managua, El Centro coordinated efforts in Seattle to provide relief services for Managua. Martha and Heylin’s visit was a time to reflect on El Centro’s mutually beneficial relationship with Nicaragua. Gracias to Martha and Heylin for visiting El Centro and to TSTSCA for organizing the visit!

El Centro de la Raza Events!

            April 21: Comcast Cares Volunteer Day
            April 22: Earth Day
            April 24: Spanish Classes at El Centro Begin - Sign Up Now!
            April 25: Comadres
            April 26: Latino Juvenile Justice Steering Committee Meeting
            April 28: Open House On Development Plan for South Lot
            May 1: Rise & Decolonize
            May 1: May Day March
            May 3: Cafe' Con El Centro
            May 5: Cinco de Mayo Celebration and Sum-It Up Workshops
            May 9: Legal Clinic

            May 12: Alternatives to Foreclosure Orientation
            May 12: Gardening Class
            May 14: Deadline for Youth "Get Engaged" Program        
            Sept 29: 40th Anniversary Celebration
- Save the Date!

Celebrating 40 Years!

ECR_40yearsWe are turning 40 years old! El Centro de la Raza was founded in 1972 which makes 2012 our 40th Anniversary. We will be celebrating this monumental milestone on Saturday September 29, 2012 from 5-8pm at the Westin Seattle, downtown. The evening will consist of a reception, silent auction, raffles, historical art-walk, three course dinner, keynote speaker, Legacy Awards and scholarship presentations and an exciting live auction. We want the event to honor the efforts of El Centro de la Raza over the last 40 years and celebrate all the people who have participated in or supported our programs and services. Please join us in this celebration by purchasing a ticket to the event HERE. Tickets are $100 and all the proceeds go to El Centro de la Raza and our work. Hope to see you there! If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or Table Captain, please contact us at events@elcentrodelaraza.org or (206) 957-4649.

Unique Gifts on Sale at El Centro!

imagesWe will accept the “best offer” on each item! There is a special opportunity to do some shopping and help El Centro in the process. We have a special selection of items reserved from the 2011 Legacy Awards and Auction Banquet in September. All proceeds from this sale go to the support of our 33 human service programs. So make an offer on any number of exciting gifts such as bottles of wine, a wedding/event deal, and venue rentals. You suggest a reasonable price and all proceeds benefit El Centro’s vital human services and community building programs! To see the complete list of items and instructions to purchase, simply click here. Questions? Email Betsy Mardany.
Juvenile Justice at El Centro
El Centro will be launching a juvenile justice youth sub-committee that will focus on the perspectives and input of students.  Topics will range from informal discipline practices, school resource offices and law enforcement.  Meetings times and schedules will be announced soon
El Centro also continues to look at parents' access to youth incarcerated in detention facilities as an issue of disproportionate minority contact.  We continue to explore ways through which parents can become better advocates for their children.

“Know Your Rights” Workshop a Success

Models for change logoAbout 45 multi-racial young people and 4 parents attend the workshop that was held Tuesday evening at El Centro de la Raza. Discussions ranged from what rights a person has when dealing with law enforcement as in school to the dynamics of law enforcement and undocumented families. The lively discussion included lots of questions and role playing. The training was done in collaboration with Youth Undoing Institutionalized Racism (YUIR), American Friends Service Committee, the Social Justice Fund (presentation from Mijo Lee), and El Centro de la Raza’s Juvenile Justice Policy and Advocacy program (Models for Change).
Latino Juvenile Justice Steering Committee

April 26th from 5:00-6:30 p.m Room 307

Join El Centro de la Raza and other advocates in gathering feedback and community support on juvenile justice issues.
Topics include:
  • School Discipline Policy Reforms
  • School Suspension Alternatives
  • Educational Alternatives
  • “Know Your Rights!”
  • School Re-Engagement
Food Will Be Provided - Please RSVP to: Ifrah Ahmed, Juvenile Justice Intern (206) 957-4640 jjwkstudy@elcentrodelaraza.org.

Gardening Classes!

Has the warmer weather made you think about gardening? You may be interested in a series of free gardening classes that will be held through September at El Centro de la Raza. Master Gardener Mick Duggan is teaching the “Growing Your Own Groceries” series on the second Saturday of each month, from 10-11:30 a.m.
Each class will include free information handouts to take home. All are welcome to “join when you can, for as long as you can.”

The next meeting will be on May 12, in room 106.
Topics on May 12 include:

  • What to plant now? Inside, outside, and under cover
  • Crop rotation
  • Planting and spacing
  • Vegetable specifics
  • Containers and small space
  • Weeding and slugs
  • Water smarts
  • Pest management

Click here for more info.

Employment Program / Programa de Empleo

Our Employment Program provides job training skills and the opportunity to find employment. Our services include: monthly workshops, one-on-one support, assistance applying for jobs & preparing for interviews. We can help you acquire new skills to advance in your career! If you would like to participate or need more information, please contact Camila Lagow: (206) 957-4622 or email or Maria Bocanegra: (206) 957-4642 or email. Para ver en español, haga clic aquí.

Overcoming Violence Through Hip Hop Artistry

206 Zulu logoOur friends at 206Zulu are organizing a series of events including school-wide assemblies to raise awareness of hip hop's true history and to showcase local Hip Hop artists. These events are focused on overcoming violence through the art form that is Hip Hop. El Centro, in partnership with Denny International Middle School's Proyecto Saber Program, is coordinating Hip Hop Poetry Classes! Contact Alex Bautista for participation details: (206) 957-4620.

Alternatives to Foreclosure Orientation

May 12th

Are you at risk of falling behind on your mortgage payments or already behind? Would you like to learn about your options and rights when it comes to being in default on your mortgage?  Come to our Alternatives to Foreclosure Orientation from 10am-12pm. You will meet with HUD approved housing counselors and learn about the process of foreclosure and alternatives to foreclosure. At the end of the orientation, you can sign up for your one-on-one appointment with a counselor. To register for this FREE Alternatives to Foreclosure Orientation contact: Piero Prada, Default and Foreclosure Intervention Housing Counselor at (206) 957-4633 or foreclosure@elcentrodelaraza.org.

What do homeowners say about their experience?

“We wish to thank you for your help with the homeownership foreclosure process. We think it was done so well starting with the orientation session and then the one-on-one counseling meeting. I appreciated so much you pouring through those stacks of documents, and I say this because I tried it here at home and didn't get anywhere. As the customer, or client, we like to be treated fairly and with respect and we appreciate your kindness and patience. I thought that was a heavy load, and again, you handled it so well, with expertise and professionalism.”

Anuncios y Felicitaciones
Announcements & Congratulations

Wedding Bells
wedding 2
Congratulations to our staff members Elvia Guzman, from our Jose Marti Child Developement Center, and Salvador Silva from facilities, who got married on Thursday, April 12th! We are so happy the two of them found each other inside the walls of El Centro. We wish them all the best!
Rental Spaces Available at El Centro!

El Centro de la Raza has office space for lease, 1044 sq ft, 1-yr lease required. The monthly lease rate is $1044/month for non-profits and $1262.54/month for-profits. Please contact our Facilities Manager, Elisa Miranda, directly for lease application and to view the space at (206) 957-4603 or facilities@elcentrodelaraza.org.


►Secure Communities Implemented in WA: Story
►Creating An Arts Education in Seattle Schools: Story

Yale Takes on Secure Communities Program in Court: Story
► Documentary on Immigration and Families: Story
President Obama Promises Immigration Reform: Story
► Cuba and Drug Policy Headline Talks at Summit of Americas: Story
Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for up-to-the-minute news and information!
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El Centro de la Raza
2524 16th Ave. South | Seattle, WA 98144
Tel: (206) 957-4605 | Email: donor@elcentrodelaraza.org
New Parking Lot

Comcast Cares Day-Volunteer!

Origins of Earth Day

National Volunteer Week

Police Accountability Petition

Open House on Development

May Day March

Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Calling for Nominations: Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award

Veteran Spotlight

Get Engaged City Government

Nicaraguan Teachers Visit El Centro

Easy ways to support El Centro:
If   you use GoodSearch as your search engine, or do your online shopping through Goodshop, you can raise money for El Centro without spending an extra cent! You may actually save money with Goodshop coupons!
GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!
Support El Centro's 32 programs by simply clicking here!
Learn More About El Centro!
Visit our website by clicking here!
Be our friend! Join us on Facebook,
Twitter, and MySpace!
Want to keep updated on what
El Centro is doing?
Tamale Making Classes
at El Centro de la Raza

10 AM - 12:30 PM, Saturdays: 
Taught by a master tamalera!
Click here to learn more!
Class fee: $75 per per class - includes recipe & a dozen uncooked tamales.
Fees support our Senior Wellness Program which provides balanced daily congregate meals, social & educational activities, exercise classes three times weekly and meal delivery for homebound seniors.
For more details: 206-957-4611or email.

Spanish Classes
Deadline Extended! Now enrolling!

6-7:30 PM Tusdays/Thursdays:
Spring Quarter: April 24-June 14
Summer Quarter: July 10-Sept. 13
Learn Spanish from native speakers in a unique educational setting! Class fees help support our 32 Human Service and Community Building Programs. Adult beginner to advanced level classes are available.
Click here to sign up!
For more details: 206-957-4605 or email.

Un grupo de apoyo y de conversación para la mujer Latina!
Para más información favor de contactor a Angela Frith-Gomez: (206) 957-4641.

You're invited!
Café con El Centro logo
Cafe con El Centro:
At El Centro de la Raza
Next Cafe - Thursday, May 3rd
How can you become an integral part of the community at El Centro? You can start by RSVPing to an upcoming Cafe con El Centro!

The Cafe is a great way to introduce yourself to our executive director, Estela Ortega, a board member, and staff from our programs. Learn the history of our roots, tour our building and programs, learn ways to get involved and network with like-minded folks. Share coffee & pan dulce with us!

Cafe con El Centro takes place the 1st Thursday of every month. Call 206-957-4652 or email to RSVP. 
Coffee generously donated by Starbucks!
Get more involved! Can you devote 2-3 hours or more a week, month, year, or just one time? We always have the need for volunteers.
For details contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Josh Stromberg:
(206) 957-4602 or by
Also see our website's volunteer section!
El Centro de la Raza relies on donations from our individual supporters to keep our programs running.
  We are also fortunate enough to have corporate and foundation sponsors and grants for many of our programs and services:

Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. $10,000 for our Homeownership Program. Gracias!!
United Way of King County. $10,000 in partnership with Rainier Valley Eats to build a greenhouse and provide horticulture classes to the community. Gracias!!

► View our Annual Report

 Mil Gracias to all of our wonderful funders, sponsors and donors!
Ramon Soliz, President
Jeff Middelton, Vice President
David Gasca, Treasurer
Roxana Amaral, Secretary
Victoria Kill, Parliamentarian
Francisco Calderon

Dorry Elias-Garcia
Cristina Garcia
Ricardo Garcia
Pablo Mendoza
Janet Jaime Rodriguez
Madrienne Salgado
Urbano Santos
Ofelia Alanis Torres
With over 28,000 volunteer hours,  El Centro de la Raza serves 23,565 individuals and 11,518 families annually through the following programs and services:

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