With the holiday season here, some are looking to give the gift of health to the city's Latino community and underserved residents of Southeast Colorado Springs.
Local nonprofit Servicios de La Raza, which serves the local Latino community, is teaming up with the El Paso County Public Health Department and several other nonprofits and organizations to host the Grab & Go Thanksgiving event, noon to 2 p.m., Nov. 23, at the Southeast Armed Services YMCA, 2190 Jet Wing Drive.
The event will have COVID-19 testing, flu shots and A-1C testing for those at risk for diabetes, appointments for health care enrollment, rental and financial assistance, as well as food to make holiday meals including turkey, vegetables and bread rolls.
"My community — which is the Latino, monolingual, Spanish-speaking community — for many, many years in Colorado Springs have been marginalized and have struggled with language isolation, and it's time for us to come up around the holidays and give them a gift," says Julissa Soto, director of statewide programs for Servicios de La Raza. "We don't care about your [immigration] status or who you are. We want to give you a little bit of happiness for you and your family for the holidays because I know that towards the holidays, the rates of depression and anxiety rise up, and I want to make sure the community knows that many nonprofits and the mental health department are there for them."
While the event targets the Latino community, Soto says everyone is welcome and no proof of income status is required.
"Our events are always open to everyone," she says. "We don't want to intimidate the community by asking to please bring A, B, C and D paperwork. We believe in your word that you need the assistance."
Since March, Denver-based Impact Charitable and Servicios de La Raza have invested $310,000 in financial and rental assistance to 310 families in Southeast Colorado Springs.
"Every family received $1,000 to pay bills or whatever they needed it for," Soto says. "We are providing financial assistance; we're addressing food insecurity. We want to help everyone, including those who don't qualify for unemployment, or do not receive any government assistance because of their status."
Soto believes in order to reach the residents the event is hoping to serve, it's important to have it where they live, work and play.
"They want and need us to come to them," she says, emphasizing the need for health care. "Right now, COVID is scary. And not only COVID, but for a lot of these families that are undocumented, it's the uncertainty of how to get tested and what help they qualify for."
"They don't have to be afraid to come out to our event and have those services available just because of their status, because of language isolation. We want them to come out, because we want all people to have those services available to them. We're bilingual, bicultural and it doesn't matter if you're white, purple, black, blue — we want to make everyone feel welcome."
Visit facebook.com/servicesforthepeopleCOS for more information about the event.