Torres mainly wants people to know that Latins United is much more than a social club. The organization donated to nearly a dozen nonprofits in need in 2014-- something that hadn't been done in a while.
"We're also here to help out the community,” he said. “We want to help out other organizations that need the help.”
The mission of Latins United is to unite and develop the necessary leadership among Latinos in order for the social, cultural, economic and political rights of the Latino community to be adequately addressed and represented.
The organization had lost its own nonprofit status last year for failing to file the proper tax paperwork over a three-year period-- so Torres enlisted the help of county auditor Anita López to re-establish that status and went to the Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to find a new accountant and attorney to fix other paperwork problems.
“I'm only about moving forward and not putting blame on anyone,” he said. "Let's just keep it going forward. We've done that with two new faces as trustees.”
Torres also is quick to credit his entire executive board for the change in direction, such as lending the use of its St. Clair St. clubhouse for groups like the Spanish-American Organization (SAO) and National Latino Peace Officers Association chapter to hold their meetings. Torres is treasurer of the Latino law enforcement group, now in its third year.
Torres is married and the father of four adult children, all in their 20s. Torres also has two grandchildren, one of whom he now coaches in third grade basketball at Queen of Apostles School. His family resides in the Old South End.
His dad Juan Torres, Sr., passed away four years ago, just one week shy of this 92nd birthday. Chevo’s father was born in Hanawac, México in 1918 and married his wife María Consuelo Leija in 1942 in Mexico. The couple first settled in Texas, then later moved to the Swanton area where Juan, Sr., worked for Bettinger Farms as a laborer for over 40 years. The couple was married for 55 years, before his mom died in 1997.
Torres recently passed the 15-year mark with the Lucas County Sheriff's Office. He started as a corrections officer in 1999 and was promoted to deputy sheriff in 2007. He still works at the Lucas County Jail, but maintains the overall security of the lockup and transports arrestees and inmates whenever required. His older brother Gabe also is a sheriff's deputy, but with a little more seniority.
“I had started a family and had kids and needed something with job security,” Torres said.
He had previously worked at a furniture factory in the Swanton area and at Burlington Air Freight, the predecessor to BAX Global at Toledo Express Airport.
But his job at the sheriff's office prompted a greater interest in community service. Now Torres frequently acts as a translator for Spanish-speaking prisoners when they are arrested and volunteers his time for the annual parish festival at SS. Peter and Paul. This past summer he headed the security detail there.
“The thing I like about it is I'm able to help out the community," he said. "I donate my time at the festivals. I don't get paid.”
Torres also proudly wears the deputy uniform because he believes it sets a good example for young Latinos to see someone who looks like them in law enforcement. He hopes to encourage more young Latinos to enter the profession, especially as the population grows in Northwest Ohio and across the country.
“We're willing to help them with the process. But they need to know they need to get their education. That's something I wish I would have known,” he admitted. "That's what we need in law enforcement. We need more Latinos, especially bilingual Latinos.”
Torres also stated he's ramped up his community involvement so other Latino famlies can re-establish trust with local law enforcement-- and not fear the possibility of arrest or deportation that has been sparked by recent immigration crackdowns and allegations of racial profiling.
“We don't want them to be scared of us. When they see a Latino officer in uniform, maybe they realize they can come and speak to us one-on-one, not be afraid,” he said.