Centro San Juan Diego Monthly Newsletter
Greetings from Centro!
I hope you have been enjoying many blessings in 2021 so far. Centro San Juan Diego has welcomed the new year with gusto! We have been busy launching new programs and expanding existing class offerings.
January and February brought a flurry of activity as we welcomed more GED students than in all of 2020 combined, started four different computer classes as well as ESL classes in the morning and evening, registered 10 new students in UPAEP bachelor’s and master’s programs, launched a new domestic violence program and a revamped financial literacy course, and began modified tax preparation services as well. Increased demand for classes and services has kept us on our toes as we try to meet the needs of as many in the community as possible!
As always, we are grateful for your constant prayers and support of our ministry as we continue to encourage the spiritual and educational growth of our Hispanic community.
Creados Para Amar
Centro San Juan Diego’s newest program,
Creados Para Amar
, launched on January 23. This pilot program seeks to educate participants about healthy relationship dynamics and domestic abuse prevention, and then share that information within their own communities.
After an application and selection process, a diverse group of 30 participants has begun the first portion of the program, which includes 40 hours of online classroom instruction through UPAEP’s Continuing Education department.
Program participants range in age, education level, and professional background. Some work with youth, families, and married couples in their parishes while others are engaged in more secular work. All share a common goal, however, to gain a better understanding of domestic violence in order to prevent it within their own families and communities.
“In Latino culture we have customs, stereotypes and erroneous ideas about what the family should be; the idea that the strongest person is the one who is in charge has been passed down through generations and has created a negative impact on how we function in our families and in society,” says one participant, Carla. She wants to help other people feel empowered in their own relationships and change the narrative about what is and what is not normal in healthy relationships and families.
Sandra and Daniel, a married couple who works with other couples and families in their parish, also understand this great need in the Hispanic community. “Unfortunately, there is a lot of ignorance about this issue...domestic violence is part of everyday life in marriage, due in part to teachings passed from parents to children that are based on ignorance, economic needs, fear, and/or misinterpretation of the faith, as well as the immigration status of the couple or family.” As leaders in their community, Sandra and Daniel are excited to participate in
Creados Para Amar
to offer better support and direction to the couples and families with whom they work.
Bringing different perspectives and life experiences to this course, all participants are uniquely positioned to create real, necessary change within their local communities and beyond!
DACA Program Changes Cause GED Boom
The Department of Homeland Security has begun to accept
new DACA applications
after Judge Nicholas Garaufis, a federal judge in Brooklyn, ordered the restoration of the program in early December. Prior to this decision, the program had been suspended since 2017.
Among other requirements, interested applicants must be currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, or have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate in order to be eligible for the program.
Here at Centro, we have already begun to experience the tremendous impact of this change! Interest in our GED preparation classes skyrocketed almost immediately following the announcement of Judge Garaufis' decision, and the number of students who registered in January and February alone is
more than double
the amount of students we had in the last six months of 2020 combined!
Actual class registrations have increased by
in this time period, but the demand is even greater! Thanks to our new virtual reality, we are able to offer these necessary classes to many more students, but have limited class sizes in order to make the whole program more manageable for staff, students, and teachers alike.
Though future challenges to the DACA program are likely, C
entro San Juan Diego will continue to serve and accompany the immigrant community through whatever changes may come!
AARP Tax Aide: Back in Action!
This same time last year, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the AARP Tax Aide program at Centro. While the initial hope was to restart the program before the postponed July 15 tax filing deadline, stay-at-home orders continued through the summer. Keeping an eye on coronavirus case numbers in Colorado, directions from AARP leadership, and local laws and regulations, the tax team spent the rest of 2020 discussing and developing ideas for a new service delivery model for 2021.
Thanks to all this hard work and planning, the tax preparation season is underway once again! In previous years, certified volunteers prepared tax returns on a first come, first served basis. Now, interested clients are required to complete an intake packet, make an appointment to drop off their paperwork and have it scanned, and then make another appointment to pick up a copy of their tax return once completed.
Within three days of announcing the program's re-opening, there were already 165 individuals on the list to begin completing their paperwork! Though a bit more tedious, this new process limits in-person interaction and protects against potential exposure to the virus.
Regardless, Centro San Juan Diego and the AARP Tax Aide Foundation are excited and grateful for the opportunity to offer this much-needed service to the community once again!
COVID Vaccine Clinics with
Vuela for Health
Centro San Juan Diego and
Vuela for Health
offered the first of a series of COVID-19 vaccination clinics on February 21. Approximately 200 people in the 65+ age group received the first dose of the vaccine!
Over the past year, trends in infection and hospitalization rates show that the virus has disproportionately affected Latinos/Hispanics both across the country and in the
Denver metro area
. Now that an effective vaccine is available, similar data trends reveal that these same communities who are experiencing the greatest impact from the virus are also facing the greatest
obstacles to vaccination
and other health resources.
Both Centro and
uela for Health
share the same fundamental goal of promoting the common good and well-being of the Hispanic community. By increasing public health awareness and improving access to the vaccine, both organizations are working to address the health equity crisis facing the community here in Colorado.
For more information about upcoming clinics or to schedule an appointment, please call 1-888-747-2583 or fill out the vaccination request form by clicking
OUR APOSTOLIC MOMENT:
A Lenten Reflection by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
On Ash Wednesday, Archbishop Aquila published a new pastoral note to the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of Denver.
As we prepare for Easter, let us embrace "Our Apostolic Moment" and prepare our hearts for Christ's resurrection. To read the Archbishop's note in full, please click
on Wednesday, March 17 at 8:01AM