ROANOKE, Va. – While Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month comes to an end on Oct. 15, there’s an organization working hard to celebrate and connect the Spanish-speaking community in the Roanoke Valley.
Casa Latina is a nonprofit run by volunteers in Roanoke that helps Spanish-speaking people from all over the world who call Southwest Virginia home.
The organization’s programs address social, cultural and educational aspects of the Spanish-speaking community.
Casa Latina is also working hard to inform the community about coronavirus guidelines and other important information.
The Centers for Disease Control provides them with material already translated in Spanish, then Casa Latina posts it on Facebook and prints flyers.
Other partnerships, like with Feeding Southwest Virginia, are helping Casa Latina increase food distributions for those impacted by the pandemic.
Volunteer coordinator Thania Torres said due to the coronavirus outbreak, the awareness for what they do is growing, which means helping more people. Fortunately, more people are wanting to help too.
“Our volunteers went up and also the families that we could reach were also increased because what happened is these partnerships, these organizations came to us to reach the (Spanish-speaking) community,” said Torres.
She also said the new-found awareness of Casa Latina combined with the pandemic also redefines the meaning of Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month.
Both she and the organization’s president, Dr. Kris Tilley-Lubbs, agree there’s more awareness of what Spanish-speaking people bring to the table.
Yes, they do bring food and culture, but they are also part of the community, adding to the economy and essential workers.
“Roanoke City became aware of Casa’s presence and so they have included us in a number of different committees, planning committees, advisory committees so that the voice of the Spanish-speaking community can be present in some way,” said Lubbs.
Lubbs mentioned the city also just hired a bilingual support specialist to specifically help with the pandemic.
Casa Latina isn’t just a liaison, the nonprofit celebrates the cultures of the Spanish-speaking people they assist.
Before the pandemic, they would throw celebrations, but now they’ve taken their celebrations online. On Facebook, they spotlight Spanish-speaking countries and culture.
Most of Casa Latina’s events are virtual right now, but they’re always looking for more. If you would like to volunteer or learn more about Casa Latina you can find contact information on Facebook, here.