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Adelante, Inc.: The Rising of the Phoenix, las Fénix

By Federico Martínez, Special to La Prensa

Toledo’s Adelante, the Latino Resource Center, is on the rise again with new leadership and an influx of grant dollars and community partnerships.

The solution, organization officials say, was to refocus and return to what made the organization successful in the first place – putting the needs of the community first.

Ramón Pérez and Guisselle Mendoza

“When I was hired we had lost all of this funding and needed to start over,” said Guisselle Mendoza, who was hired as Adelante’s executive director in February 2014. “We had to ask ourselves – the board, staff and community – what is Adelante?

“I wanted to go back to basics – education, support services, advocacy and empowering the community.”

With the help of thousands of dollars in new state new grant funds and collaborations with other organizations that is exactly what Adelante is doing.

In September, Adelante launched its new grant-funded “Mom’s Matter” program. The one-year pilot effort is a peer-to-peer mentorship that pairs mothers who have received special training with other mothers who many need guidance, encouragement and an occasional nudge.

The mentors teach mothers who have children from newborn to 8 years of age, said Ms. Mendoza.  The primary areas of focus include the negative health impact of alcohol, nicotine and other drugs, the benefits of breast feeding and literacy.

“Sometimes a parent just needs support and encouragement,” said Ms. Mendoza. “This approach is much less invasive than having someone tell you that you have to do something. This program is very personal.”

If successful, the state will consider funding for Adelante to operate a similar program for fathers, Ms. Mendoza said.

Grants from the Andersons Foundation and the Stranahan Foundation will allow the organization to continue funding its popular Early Literacy program and purchase new reading and writing materials. Adelante is searching for middle and high school age youths who are willing to volunteer an hour or two per week to serve as reading mentors for K-5 youths.

The organization is always searching for community volunteers, especially adults who are willing to help supervise Adelante’s two afterschool youth programs. For more information contact Adelante at (419) 244-8840.

The Rising of the Phoenix

Many community leaders credit Ms. Mendoza and her staff for breathing new life into an agency which just one year ago seemed to be in its death throes. Prior to Ms. Mendoza’s hiring, six directors had come and gone through Adelante’s doors since 2010, and the agency had lost one-third of its funding.

A native of Nicaragua, Ms. Mendoza served four years as the coordinator of the center’s Early Literacy Program and two years as director of programs.

Former board chairwoman Carrie L. Sponseller praised Ms. Mendoza’s “positive energy” and ability to develop partnerships with other community agencies when she was hired.

Four new programs offered

Due to recent collaboration efforts Adelante, Inc. is now able to offer the Latino community four new programs, including domestic violence services through the YWCA. Adelante previously operated its own program until funding was lost two years ago.

A new partnership with Read for Literacy encourages families to visit read and spend more time together. The program is offered at the Toledo-Lucas County Library. Adelante receives funds to recruit, provide transportation for families and provide any other support services, Ms. Mendoza said.

Adelante is also teaming up with Partners in Education to encourage more Latino parents to become involved in a program called “College Coaches.” The program, which begins January 22, will be held at Queen of Apostle Church. [For more information contact Adelante, whose staff will conduct workshops in Spanish.]

“College Coaches” is a workshop-based program that helps educate parents on how to assist their children with pursuing a college education, said Ms. Mendoza. Many parents want their children to attend college, but don’t know how to help lead them down that path.

Workshop topics will include how to help students with homework, what high school classes are essential for students to take if they want to improve their chances to get into a college, how to help students deal with test anxiety and how to apply for college.

Adelante, Inc. has always partnered with other community organizations, Ms. Mendoza said. But previously Adelante would provide its services, such as language translation services for free.  The difference now is that Adelante is being compensated for its partnership role.

“One of the things many people don’t realize is that in the past we weren’t always compensated,” said Ms. Mendoza. “Being bilingual is a skill; having culturally-sensitive staff is important.

Adelante, Inc. currently employees 12 people, most of them are bilingual.

United Way of Greater Toledo is providing free tax services for low income residents, and Spanish-speaking clients. That program begins January 21 and appointments are necessary.

Adelante, Inc. will also host the Mexican Consulate on March 7 and November 21 this year so that local residents can renew their paperwork.

“These are all new things that we’re excited about,” said Ms. Mendoza.  “All of these speak to empowering our community.”

That was the original vision of Adelante, several community leaders said.

Jack Ford

Adelante, Inc. was founded in 1995 by Jack Ford, Ramón Pérez, and Joseph Pérez of Toledo OH and Roy Vargas of Adrian MI. They initially focused on providing substance abuse services, such as counseling for heroin addicts, which was a major problem in Toledo’s Latino community in the 1990s, Pérez said in a previous interview.

Current Councilman Jack Ford arranged for the initial funding for Adelante, Inc. said Ramón Pérez. Jack Ford at the time was executive director of Substance Abuse Services Inc. [SASI], and he obtained a grant from the Ohio Department of Health that allowed Adelante, Inc. to begin operating.

On the Internet:   https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2014/032814/perez.htm


Copyright © 1989 to 2015 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/20/15 18:52:20 -0800.




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