The son of Toledo School Board member and community activist Bob Vásquez, Stephen is proud of his family heritage. “My dad’s side of la familia (the Alvarado and Vásquez familias) were among the pioneer East Toledo Latino settlers [see “School Board candidate Bob Vásquez: “Education is the pathway to equality!” by Alan Abrams, La Prensa Senior Correspondent, in the Feb. 29, 2008 issue of La Prensa, or online at: https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2008/022908/Bob.htm].
“Everyone, including my dad, my three uncles, and many cousins, all graduated from Waite High School. My family is originally from México and made their way to the Midwest by working the fields on their way up north. My mom grew up in the Trilby area and attended Whitmer High School,” Vásquez says.
Vásquez is very active in the Latino community, serving every year as a facilitator at the University of Toledo’s Latino Youth Summit. He also serves on the CASA board. Previously, Stephen was involved with FLOC and Diamante, and also started the Latino Student Union while employed at Lourdes College.
Four of the Latinos are information and referral (I&R) specialists with United Way 2-1-1.
“I have been employed at United Way 2-1-1 since 1989. At the time, I was the only Hispanic employee in the agency,” recalls Ricardo. “I have enjoyed working here at United Way and witnessing the progress United Way has made in its involvement with the Latino community through the years. I am very proud about United Way’s growing involvement with the Latino community. The Latino community is more than happy to be a part of the spirit of giving, because we Latinos have a lot to offer our community, including time, culture, skills, and, money.
“I am of Latino descent of Mexican-American families that sprung up through the southwest desert lands of Texas, Nevada, New México, Arizona, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, California, Colorado, and Utah. During the time of the Mexican Revolution from the Spanish Rule, a lot of these families remained in these lands to live after Spain left and continued to thrive as Mexican citizens until the Mexican-American War, which then followed with the separation of the two countries. My parents and grandparents and great – grandparents were among those families that settled in the Austin and San Antonio, Victoria and Cuero, Texas areas,” says Ricardo.
Anamaria and the other three information and referral (I&R) specialists provide information and referrals in person, by phone, and outside in the community. All I&R specialists participate in community outreach events such as health fairs, festivals and educational events.
“I am happy to be working for an organization that assists the community in such a real meaningful way. I always feel I’ve done my job when I’m able to help someone in crisis,” says Anamaria.
“My parents are of Mexican descent; my father is from the state of Jalisco, México. My mother was born here in the US, but my grandparents were also from México,” Anamaria adds.
Anamaria joined United Way in Oct. 2008. She is a part-time I&R specialist and also a part-time case manager at the Monroe Street Neighborhood Center also known as “The Bridge.” There she facilitates a training program called Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting-By World: Building Resources for a Better Life, a 15-week program designed to help the target audience (people in poverty) to become more self sufficient.
Anamaria also provides I&R at Claver House, a soup kitchen run by Saint Martin de Porres Church.
“As a bilingual information and referral specialist, it’s a great feeling to know I can assist people in both English and Spanish,” explains Marta Sandoval. “Many Latinos go through struggles just like anyone else, but have a communication barrier and less knowledge of where to go for help. That is why it is such a good feeling to be able to help someone and know they fully understand what to do in order to receive assistance from resources in their community.
“I am of Mexican origin, born in a small village called La Mora in the state of Guanajuato, México. I have been with United Way 2-1-1 for almost one year and a half, which includes the internships I have done in the previous year,” says Sandoval.
Jessica works as an administrative assistant for United Way 2-1-1 and also coordinates their Earned Income Tax credit program each year.
“I truly love working here at United Way,” says Jessica. “It’s great working where I can help people and feel good doing it.”
Jessica was born in Adrian, Michigan. “My mother and father are both Hispanic. We moved here when I was five years old and I have lived here ever since. My family has always helped people in the community. My father today still works in a small meat store in East Toledo and was an 82nd Chapter Person for many years and was very involved in the community. My mother worked for Food Town for 20 years and every time Food Town did something that was fun or to lend a hand, we where there. That is how I learned how to make thing work out the best way,” she recalls.
“I went to Owens Community College, and the University of Toledo. After school, I worked at La Prensa, Focus Homeless Prevention Agency, St. Marks Church, Lucas County MRDD, COSI of Toledo, and Corrigan Moving United Van Lines. Every place I worked at trained me for the experience I am having here, and that is how I can share a little of what I have learned from all the work place and to be the best I can be,” adds Jessica, who has been with United Way for a year-and-a-half.