March 12, 2004

A New Voice for the Latino Community in Mid-City San Diego

By Patricia Hodge

They come from different backgrounds, different life-styles, and different ethnicities but their mission is the same: to help the Mid-City San Diego neighborhood.

The array of representatives from the public health sector, religious institutions, schools, businesses, police and even the public make up the Networking Council, that for the past eight years, has convened every month to discuss and address issues within their community.

The Networking Council’s main goal is to share information among members and turn data into information that the public can use. This is important for the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network, which strives to promote safe, healthy communities by serving as a clearinghouse of ideas and advocacy.

Now, they are reaching more Mid-City residents, by extending the council to Spanish-speaking residents.

The Red Comunitaria is a mirror image of the Networking Council meeting except that the only language used is Spanish. This Spanish only meeting is a breakthrough for the Latino community since it eliminates the language gap, one of the most critical barriers to participating in community meetings like the original Networking Council. The most recent meeting, held in August, was its third ever. Approximately 30 people attended to discuss issues and concerns for the Latino community in Mid-City. The Red Comunitaria is a new platform for Latinos to have a voice.

“I am so excited about this meeting”, said Kevin O’Neill said from Mid-City Community Advocacy Network “it creates another opportunity where we can all come together to address the issues that occur in our neighborhood”.

Announced in the beginning of the meeting as a declaration, a volunteer read aloud the six primary objectives of the Red Comunitaria:

1. Become familiar with different persons and groups that work in Mid-City San Diego

2. Establish relationships and collaborations between organizations and residents of Mid-City San Diego

3. Recognize situations and/or issues that impact the community and develop strategies and actions for the improvement for the community

4. To fight for change in our community

5. To meet responsible people who are interested in protecting Mid-City San Diego and those who live here

6. Establish a space to exchange information and services

Despite the language difference, the motivation to make change for the better in Mid-City is still evident. Strong support of the Latino community in the Mid-City area is provided by agencies such as Genesis, Hablando Claro, Price Charities and Latinos y Latinas en Accion. For example, Hablando Claro presented to the group a study of Latino youth and their parents about the issue of teen pregnancy. The survey showed that parents and children had different perceptions of what was most threatening in the lives of youth. Also, the study found that a communication gap existed between parent and child when it comes to sensitive topics, such as risk behaviors.

Meetings are held every month at the Scripps Wellness Center in City Heights. The December meeting will be at 3 o’clock on December 18th. A member of Latinos y Latinas en Accion announced “We are asking anyone to come and also help us set up these meetings”. The idea of hiring a translator for English is still being debated. Members of Red Comunitaria said this is a chance for more people to learn Spanish.

For more information, please contact Aixa Quiros at Mid-City Community Advocacy Network 619. 283.9624.

Patricia Hodge is an intern with the Mid-City Community Advocacy Network’s Partnership for the Public’s Health (PPH) Initiative. She is a graduate student in Public Health at San Diego State University. The PPH Initiative is working with residents to address policies related to public health issues in the Mid-City community of San Diego.

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