Unique gifts for the Holidays
Part IV of V
Servicios de La Raza lays the groundwork to thrive in 2018
To say Servicios de la Raza had a busy 2017 would be an understatement. An already difficult civil climate was exacerbated in mid January when the Trump administration went into full force; however, the service center focused on providing a gateway to community resources for individuals that have nowhere else to turn was not been deterred from its mission.
“It’s been a tough year in terms of civic engagement and working in defense of our community,” said Rudolph “Rudy” Gonzales, executive director, Servicios de la Raza. “Obviously the political climate has thrown our communities into a space of anxiety and anger, depression and frustration - all those issue that affect our public health.”
Thriving despite political climate
Even with the additional challenges, Gonzales said that Servicios de la Raza has remained an integral part of the underrepresented communities of Metro Denver and has even flourished.
“We’ve been integral in bringing communities together by facilitating ‘Know Your Rights’ trainings and disseminating information around immigrant refugee issues,” he said.
Gonzales added that one of the largest contributions Servicios de la Raza made in 2017 was through its human service programs, including strengthening its re-entry and substance abuse programs.
“We’re averaging close to 30-plus thousand people across Metro Denver a year now,” Gonzales said regarding Servicios de la Raza as a human services provider. “We started new programming around re-entry and we’ve strengthened and really established our substance abuse programming.”
He added that Servicios de la Raza hopes to play an integral part in academia. With more Latinos attending higher education programs in the United States and Colorado, the need for academia-centered programs and research is vital.
“We are building out new programming around community-based participatory research efforts with the University of Colorado School of Public Health and the Latino Policy and Research Center at UCD (University of Colorado-Denver),” Gonzales said. “We hope to become the community research center in academia while driving research that is community-centered and will play significant part in improving our community.”
One of Servicios de la Raza’s strongest fields, however, is that of giving back to the community. On November 21, Servicios de la Raza held a communal event that helped feed, cloth and enroll the needy in a variety of health insurance programs from their facility at 3131 W. 14th Avenue, in Denver.
“We served over 630 full-turkey food baskets that fed over 2,100 individuals and we enrolled approximately 40 families into health insurance,” Gonzales said of the November 21st event. “We also gave out about 30 free flu shots and distributed hundreds of coats.”
For those who missed the event in November, Gonzales said not to fear as “we’ll be doing it all over again on December 19.”
On December 19, Servicios de la Raza will host a Christmas-themed event featuring gifts and food baskets, as well as open enrollment services for health insurance.
Creating jobs in 2018
With 2018 now on the horizon, Gonzales said Servicios de la Raza’s mission will not change. In fact, the organization aims to bolster its established programs, while continuing to expand its footprint.
“We are excited about building out our board,” he said. “In 2018 we look to reinforce our board with people who have the skills and expertise in the areas that we need.”
Gonzales added that 2018 will also present challenges for Servicios de la Raza and the communities it serves, but the organization has bolstered its partnerships, specifically with the MEP Alliance (mechanical, electrical and plumbing alliance). With MEP, Servicios de la Raza formed STEP (Skilled Trades Education Program), which is designed to get Denver residents proper certification as plumbers, sheet metal workers, pipe fitters and electricians.
“It’s a direct pathway to the middle class and well-paying jobs,” Gonzales said of the reasoning behind the partnership. “We will continue that work and also work to develop other opportunities for our community to get into those well-payed construction trades and establish careers in them along with the work that we do to prepare our youth for higher education.”
To get connected with Servicios de la Raza visit
serviciosdelaraza.org or call (303) 458-5851.