On Thursday, March 9th, Rise and Dutchtown South Community Corporation staff went to the weekly meeting of Amigas Latinas to share information about our planning work and to hear about their priorities and vision with copies of a survey translated into Spanish and assistance from a translator. Sra. Rataj and the team at St. Francis Community Services Southside Center deserve special shout-outs for their hospitality and commitment to our neighborhoods. Founded in 1983, St. Francis Community Services addresses the immediate needs and systemic issues for all, while specializing in Vietnamese and Latino communities in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. SFCS seeks to raise respect for heritage and engagement within and among cultures in a strength-based process of equipping clients with the skills necessary to be resilient.
From our conversation with the women and their survey responses, we learned that a key strength is connection with neighbors, location and diversity. Additionally, the vast majority of the women felt children in their family receive high quality educations. We also learned that ALL of those who responded to the survey would be interested in starting their own business, but do not have the resources necessary. A key strategy would be support for local minority-owned businesses and apprenticeship programs for local youth.
According to survey responses, many of the Amigas do not feel safe walking around the neighborhood. Proposed solutions include more foot police, neighborhood walking groups, and cleaning up vacant and abandoned properties.
We also discussed how all have the desire to engage in their communities and neighborhood groups, but struggle with the language barrier – flyers and meetings are in English. We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to meet and discuss our efforts with the Amigas Latinas, and look forward to a continued conversation.