COMMUNITY MEMBERS’ STORIES. To find out more about how El Centro’s programs, your donations and Plaza Roberto Maestas can make a difference in community members’ lives, read their stories below.
Juanito Discovers Good Eyesight and So Much More. When Juanito started coming to the José Martí Child Development Center, he loved playing with blocks, but rarely visited the book area. When it came time for the health screenings El Centro de la Raza performs on all the preschoolers, his mother Ada was nervous. The screening revealed Juanito had 20/100 vision in one eye and needed glasses.
At first, Juanito didn’t want to wear his glasses. The teachers helped him adjust through teaching activities, role-modeling and lots of love. Today, Juanito loves his glasses and he loves looking at books with his improved vision.
“I feel proud of El Centro de la Raza for all the positive changes my son has experienced,” Ada says. “He is very advanced and he has learned a great deal.”
Samuel’s Family Finds Relief through Veterans’ Outreach. Samuel underwent heavy radiation exposure during his eight years in the Navy. After the service, he began to experience headaches and seizures.
His family was devastated to learn Samuel had a brain tumor. Unable to work, the family depended on government aid.
Samuel called Aires, El Centro’s Veterans’ Outreach Specialist, and explained that his VA claim had been lost in the system for years. Aires helped Samuel compile a case file for benefits. Samuel was finally awarded $150,000 in retroactive benefits, ongoing monthly benefits, education benefits and more!
“A weight has been lifted,” says Samuel, “I couldn’t have done it without Aires. We need people like Aires who take the time to listen and advocate for veterans.”
Jaime Graduates with the PASS Program. Jaime is a West Seattle High School graduate who credits El Centro de la Raza with helping him succeed.
“Seattle Team for Youth was extremely motivational for me. Participating in this program pushed me to complete high school. Belinda was the mentor that helped me get on track with my high school credits when I was really behind. She introduced the PASS program to me. If it weren’t for her taking me to get informed on programs I could do to catch up, I wouldn’t have graduated with my class,” says Jaime.
“I’m glad that a program like that exists to help students in high school who are having a difficult time. If it weren’t for this program, I wouldn’t have graduated and have the amazing job that I have as a dance instructor.”
Juanita Is Giving Back: From Poverty to College Graduate. Juanita is a donor who has benefited from El Centro de la Raza’s programs and now wants to show her gratitude by giving back.
“Because of organizations like El Centro de la Raza, I went from poverty to graduating from college to now [being] a thirty-year teacher. Thank you for your work!”
Señor Bernal Saves His Home. Señor Bernal was born in the Mexican state of Jalisco, served in the Mexican military and owned his own business in Mexico, but was forced to close it due to health reasons. At 63, he moved to Seattle and worked to support his grandchildren and wife, who has a heart condition and can’t work.
When the interest rate on his house rose from 9 percent to 11.25 percent, Señor Bernal realized he simply did not earn enough to make the payments.
El Centro helped Señor Bernal to work with his bank to complete a budget, write a hardship letter, and provide proof of income. With El Centro’s help, Señor Bernal was able to reduce his interest rates and avoid foreclosure.