Centro Latino hopes to fund new programs

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Organization served 15,000 in 2012

By Lisa King

Officials at Centro Latino say they are excited about an upcoming wine tasting this Friday at Talon Winery – the center’s first fundraiser – that they hope will help to fund some new programs.

Sister Pat Reno, executive director of Centro Latino, said that not only is the number of people who depend on the center growing – they served 15,000 people last year – but they have also added a couple of new services, which are extensions of the center’s GED and English as a second language classes.

“This year, not only did we do classes on Saturday [English], but we also have been holding classes on Tuesday and Thursday,” she said. “So our day laborers who stand out front hoping to get picked up for a job, but find very few jobs during the winter months, they were able to take advantage of those classes.”

Reno said those classes are pretty unique, because since many of the Hispanic men are illiterate, they had to find a way to help them gain some much needed knowledge on a very fundamental level.

“We used pictures of various things, like farm implements and tools and tractors, and other items that they need to know the vocabulary for,” she said. “So this was a big help to them, especially since many of them work on horse farms. Our teacher also had pictures for other occupations, like landscaping, which is different than farming.”

The men are clever and willing to work hard, Reno said, so these classes have helped them tremendously.

“We also have a new GED program especially for people in the DACA [Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals], program,” Reno said.

She said that the program, recently established by President Barack Obama, allows those brought into the country as children to earn a certificate, renewable each year, to allow them to work.

“It’s something that lets them get, not a Social Security number, but another number, that government agencies recognize, as a usable number, to let them get a job,” she said.

Once they get their GEDs, they can get this permit that will let them get employment and pay taxes, she said.

“They won’t get citizenship, but they will have the possibility to get a job,” she said. “We have some people who have actually gone to high school here in Shelbyville, but once they’ve done that, they still didn’t have the documentation to allow them to get a job. This will give them that documentation.”

The fundraiser will also help to fund Centro Latino’s other programs, including the food pantry, clothing bank and other services.

“Although we do get many donations of food, I also buy hundred-pound bags of beans and rice,” Reno said.

“We sort them into smaller packages to give them out. Also, in our clothes closet, most of our clothing is donated, but we do have to occasionally buy some things.”

Centro Latino’s operating budget is $100,000 per year, Reno said, adding that her contribution to offering her services at no charge also helps, in addition to some grants, and individual donations.

“We also have about forty-five volunteers that help us very much,” she said.

The center also has an advocacy program, which is in its second year, that allows people to come in with help for any problems they may have, things as simple as sending a fax or communicating, making appointments for medical help, or whatever.

“Our staff helps with these programs,” Reno said.

The fundraiser, to be held Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Talon Winery, has an admission cost of $25 per person.

Six wine tastings are included, as well as hors d’oeuvres from McKinley’s, and activities will feature a silent auction and music.

“We will have tables inside and outside, as well as tents in the back yard,” Reno said. “That way, even if a shower springs up, you can sit outside and just enjoy yourself.”

Centro Latino

wine tasting


WHAT:First fundraiser that also includes silent auction and music

WHEN:6-9 p.m., Friday

WHERE:Talon Winery, 400 Gordon Lane


MORE INFO:Call 647-3349