Leadership to change for Hispanic group | SierraSun.com
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Leadership to change for Hispanic group

Ronnie Lynn, Sun News Service

KINGS BEACH – Just because the leadership at La Comunidad Unida will change doesn’t mean the agency will, Director Josie Garcia said.

She will step down in August, when she and her husband will move to Mexico to complete missionary work and retrace their parents’ roots.

Garcia will carry out much the same work as she has during her nine years in North Tahoe.

Prior to heading La Comunidad Unida, a nonprofit agency dedicated to bridging the gap between Spanish speakers and English speakers, Garcia worked for Tahoe Women’s Services and Project MANA. She has been at La Comunidad Unida for two years.

“My concern has always been helping the Hispanic community in whatever way I was able to, and when I go to Mexico, I’ll be doing some (English as a second language) classes and doing some other things to empower people there,” she said.

In the meantime, Garcia, the La Comunidad Unida Board of Directors and and other local nonprofit agencies will meet regularly to develop a transition plan that ensures families get the services they need.

“We’re trying to solidify the link between them and us so that if we’re serving the same families or if families have other issues, we can work together,” Kings Beach Family Resource Center Director Maryann Kemper said.

Still, Garcia will be missed. Even though the family resource center and other agencies offer bilingual services, her departure will leave a void of Hispanic leadership, said Hilary Kleger, prevention program manager for Tahoe Women’s Services.

“There’s definitely a need for more Spanish-speaking services, especially with Josie leaving,” she said. “I foresee there’s going to be a big gap, a big need with immigration issues and working with our Latino community.”

Indeed, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, Hispanics represent 42 percent of the Kings Beach community, compared to 33 percent in 1990.

A recent needs assessment conducted on behalf of The Parasol Foundation of Incline Village found that with the changing demographics comes changes in the demand for certain services.

For example, 81 percent of Kings Beach residents surveyed last year said it was important to increase adult education opportunities, particularly in the areas of English as a second language and computers.

When broken down by ethnicity, Hispanics showed the greatest support for more adult education, with 94 percent of households saying it was important to expand course offerings.

According to the executive summary of the needs assessment, that level of support correlates to the demographic data showing that more than half of Kings Beach residents have a high school diploma or less education.

The needs assessment also asked residents about ethnic services and discrimination. Sixty-five percent of Hispanic households reported experiencing problems with discrimination.


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