If you’ve ever enjoyed a burrito, if you’ve ever danced the macarena, if you find yourself still crushing on Sofia Vergara, then you know just how important the Hispanic heritage is to American culture.
To celebrate this expansive and enchanting culture, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. From September 15-October 15, the rich cultures of a Hispanic people, from Spain to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, get their moment to celebrate.
While the commemoration of these cultures seems to be wedged into an unassuming four-weeks, the choice of the timeframe is actually profound. The 15th of September is remembered as the day Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all earned their independence from Spain.
Even though the celebrations are only scheduled until October 15, the end of October ushers us into the widely recognized Hispanic tradition: Dia De Los Muertos on November 2nd. Western culture has shape-shifted into Halloween and All Saint’s Day, but the tradition of celebrating the dead has been tradition since the Aztec civilization.
But Hispanic Heritage Month is not just about Mexicans and Central Americans–it’s about celebrating the beauty of this wide-ranging culture. As such, it offers the perfect opportunity for the community to join around the people of these cultures and show them some love. There are many organizations who are looking for hands during this month (and always) to give back to the Hispanic community. From access to healthcare to the preservation of Hispanic arts, here are some areas you can help and some organizations that will lead the way.
Save the Arts!
The arts give every culture a chance to tell their story in their own voice. As such, Hispanic arts are vibrant, loud, bright, and in dire need of protection.
How can I get involved?
Viva Broadway not only focuses on Latinx representation in theater, but they also work to bring the arts to Latinx communities. By donating to this organization, you’re putting your money into “Broadway Cares,” which supports the Latinx communities across the country (including Puerto Rico). This support includes healthy meals, lifesaving medication, and emergency assistance to our Latinx neighbors.
You can also donate to the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, the organization leading the charge for Latin culture in the arts. Your donations will contribute to the advocacy for the cause, including funding networking opportunities, leadership development, and professional development training.
Looking for a more hands-on way to get involved? They’re always seeking advocates who will write or call the local school districts to defend the necessity of Hispanic arts in the community.
Education Advancement for Hispanics
Hispanic Scholarship Fund empowers Hispanic students to pursue higher education. Your donation goes into a pool that will eventually become a scholarship for a Hispanic student. Last year, there were 85,000 applicants and only 5,100 scholarship awards–so there is plenty of room for you to make an impact. In this important election year, Voto Latino helped register more than 300,000 voters. They also provide essential non-partisan information, in Spanish, so these voters can make an informed decision. Their initiatives are continuous, and they’re always looking for volunteers to help spread the word, help at events, and register more voters in the community.
Like all communities, the strength in Hispanic culture lies in their people. Unlike all communities, they face a persistent threat to their wellbeing caused by ethnic disparity within healthcare.
Health, well-being, and prosperity are the three values that fuel the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. When you make a donation here, you’re supporting the efforts to bring wider access to research, health services, and medical benefits for the Hispanic community.
The ethnic disparity is felt at the best of times, and now that COVID is here, there’s an even greater need to advocate for the health of Hispanic communities. You can help by writing to the Senate, urging them to pass the HEROES Act, which would mean financial relief for people struggling with this “new normal” across the country. Since Hispanic women and children are disproportionately affected, your simple act could help change so many lives.
Liberty means people have the freedom to go where they want and do what they wish. Of course, there’s a fine print. For Hispanics seeking a better life on American shores, the immigration process can be daunting and confusing–often resulting in delays and denials.
You can help smooth out the process of immigration for so many Latinx immigrants by joining forces as a volunteer with United We Dream. This not-for-profit fights for immigrant freedoms, including deportation defense, but also offers resources vital to the protection of Hispanic communities.
Similarly, the Hispanic American Community and Education Services (HACES) serves the hispanic community by walking individuals through the immigration process, ensuring everyone’s application is understood for accuracy and ideally successfully. Volunteers ensure that those in need of assistance get their chance for a better life.
Hispanic New Yorkers
New York City wouldn’t be what it is today without Hispanic influence. Neighborhoods of bright culture are spread throughout the boroughs, including a strong surge of spice in Williamsburg.
Since 1972, South Side United (known as “Los Sures”) has been finding creative ways to support Williamsburg’s Hispanic community. As COVID-19 settled in, it brought with it more opportunity to support the Latinx community. The result for Los Sures was to deliver food to the aged and elderly in need, providing local seniors with food at least once a day.
You can get involved with these efforts by contacting the organization at 718-387-3600 or sending an email with the subject “Volunteer” to email@example.com.
Other ways to Advocate
By showing love to the Hispanic community, you’re giving them the strength to prosper and be part of that patchwork culture of New York City and America as a whole. There are plenty of ways to donate and volunteer, giving you a dose of good karma in return.
If you’re looking for something else out of it, say, a vibrant Hispanic meal, consider ordering from one of these latin-owned restaurants. In doing so, you’re directly giving back to a community who enlivens our culture every day.
No matter how you choose to help, remember the next time you snag a churro on the train platform just how much Hispanic cultures mean to the community. While their presence is strong, there is still work to do to ensure their continued survival and their basic rights as fellow Americans. These organizations have the right idea, and their doors are opened to your helping hands.