South Tahoe’s Hispanic community hit hard by pandemic |

South Tahoe’s Hispanic community hit hard by pandemic

Cheyanne Neuffer
Special to the Sierra Sun

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The Hispanic community in Tahoe is particularly suffering from the pandemic.

Much of the community works in the service industry, which not only has seen many lose employment, but also puts them in close contact with possible transmission of the coronavirus.

“Some folks are getting called back to work, others are not,” said Bill Martinez, executive director of the Tahoe Family Resource Center.

The resource center is a school-based nonprofit organization that provides basic needs services, opportunities and bilingual counseling for community members while also offering programs that promote resilience in the Latino, Hispanic and low-income communities in South Lake Tahoe.

Martinez said that there is a lot of growing fear and concern in the Hispanic and Latino community because of the types of jobs in the service, housekeeping and cleaning industries.

“They are really feeling the impact, not only of the disease, but the inability to perform those services because all those jobs are being shuttered or not open to full capacity,” he said. “Many of our community members have tested positive for COVID and there is a continuing fear in the community that others will be impacted by having to return to work in some not safe situations.”

A majority of the community does not have the option to work from home.

Living in close quarters and sharing living spaces also makes social distancing very difficult and nearly impossible. Many in the community have had to relocate due to the inability to pay rent and, in turn, double up with other families to make ends meet.

Many have been out of work since the pandemic struck in March. By September or October, renters will be collecting full rent, so Martinez worries that there might be an influx of evictions at that time.


Recently, the California Fire Foundation and Sysco joined forces to help the communities impacted by COVID-19. California Fire Foundation and Sysco Corporation gifted $10,000 in relief effort to the resource center.

“Just as California firefighters are on the front lines of wildfires and other natural disasters, so too are the many organizations supporting families and communities through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Executive Director of the California Fire Foundation Rick Martinez said in a press release. “Our foundation has already supported communities heavily impacted by disaster, and thanks to the support from Sysco, we are proud to continue that commitment and aid the South Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center in their ongoing efforts to help their communities.”

With the donation from Sysco and fire foundation, the resource center distributed $10,000 worth of rental and food assistance to approximately 200 families in need that participated in the program. Some of these families are unemployed or working minimally due to the pandemic.

“So many are suffering in our community due to this unprecedented crisis and we have seen the need for our services increase dramatically,” Rick Martinez said. “We see the consequences of economic instability daily but thanks to the generous aid from California Fire Foundation and Sysco, we can continue our commitment to the families in our community and help them become a contributing part of the South Lake Tahoe community.”

The resource center canceled some of its programs for the community due to the pandemic, including its summer program, which is a six-week positive reinforcement and educational summer program for kids.

It usually would have about 80 kids over the summer. Its counselor moved to an online platform and continues to see more and more community members as the stress grows in the community.

Rick Martinez said the best way to help the community is to wear masks everywhere and in all businesses.

“It’s not only protecting yourself, it’s protecting everyone you come in contact with,” he said. “It is critical in overcoming the current situation of the COVID spread.”

Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune

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