Another Crab Leaves the Barrel
Chale con Coors
In Memoriam: Jesse Sánchez
Gloria Nieto works among the mischievous children who climb the windows and trees of Familia Center. For the past two years, Gloria and the children have been the life and soul of this organization, which dedicates itself to the well being of children and their families.
Gloria came on board at a time when Familia was recuperating from a burglary in which the center had lost all its phones and computers, and was basically "operating from a deficit." Now, two and a half years later, they see over 2,000 people per year with a staff of four. The number of clients has been increasing ever since the food pantry started to operate. "Now we are seeing upwards of 150 families a month, just for food," said Nieto. Familia Center also offers advocacy programs, food and clothing distribution, summer programs for children, and ESL classes.
Now Gloria Nieto is leaving the center. After being in California for 18 years, Glo is moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the beginning of October.
[Proposition] 187, nobody has to be subtle about their racism anymore. The community is so segregated and it's more racist than a lot of people want to believe." The very disillusioned Nieto turns her head towards the window and smiles broadly at the sight of a boy climbing on it. "But I consider myself very fortunate because many children have jumped onto my lap and asked me if I have any chocolate."
Her thoughts return to the local Latino community: "I don't see us organizing; there's a lot of infighting. It's like the crabs in the barrel, everybody helps each other to get almost to the top and then when you get almost to the top, the one pushing you to the top pulls you down. We continue that cycle all the time."
However, she acknowledges the help she received early on from some of the Familia neighbors, particularly from board member Lola Padilla. "I would go and sit on her porch and talk and she would talk about Beach Flats and introduce me to people. Her assistance during that time period was so invaluable that we wouldn't be here today and successful without Lola.
"It's important for me to walk away so that other people can come in" she says, "We've come this far, and with whoever comes in next we are going to expand more, with new energy and new ideas. That's another way to develop leadership: letting other people come forward."
On Saturday August 5, internationally renowned boxer Julio César Chávez toured the streets of East San José to promote his fight against illiteracy. Coors Brewing Company, the sponsor of the campaign, plans to donate 5 to 10 cents for every case (24 beers) it sells during the months of August and September to the vocational classes offered at the Center for Training and Careers (CTC) in San José.
But not everybody is ready to say "cheers." In an outraged press release, the Association for Responsible Alcohol Control (ARAC), denounced Coors and its attempt to TARGET the Latino community while, on the other hand, ARAC accuses the company of being a major contributor to organizations that seek to destroy affirmative action, bilingual education, and promote racism. "How many Hispanics have to get drunk to get a 5 cent donation from Coors?" asked Félix J. Alvarez, coordinator for ARAC. "Chávez came touring the East Side, trying to make it appear like they [Coors' executives] care. They are attempting to buy the goodwill of our community, but at what price?"
Jesse Sánchez proved to be a tireless fighter to the very end.
Sánchez graduated from Alisal High School in the school's first bilingual ceremony, a concession to the Latino community which he had fought hard to see realized. He obtained his law degree from U.C. Davis and came back to Salinas to start a career as a lawyer and activist. In 1989, he managed a successful campaign for Simón Salinas, who became the first Mexican-American councilmember in the city.
Recently, Sánchez launched his own campaign for Monterey County supervisor against Simón Salinas, but bowed out after the primary elections, claiming that he did not want to divide the Latino community., A few weeks later he learned he had colon cancer. He passed away on August 3rd of this year.
He will be greatly missed in a community where he fought hard, and with much success, to voice the concerns of the Latino community.
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