By Catalina Berry
Last fall, the Hispanic Impact Fund kicked off the Latino Monologues y Dialogues, a new event series to learn and discuss how we can build a stronger, more equitable Central Texas for our Hispanic families, friends, and neighbors.
On November 10, 2022, at Zilker Botanical Garden, Geronimo Rodriguez shared his journey as the son of immigrant farmworkers who became the first in his family to attend college. As Texas Chief Advocacy Officer at Seton Healthcare Family—and with a rich personal history of dedicating time to community health projects—Geronimo’s monologue guided us through an evening of listening, reflection, and discussion about one of four Hispanic Impact Fund strategy areas: Health and Wellness.
Today, Geronimo is both a prominent leader within the largest nonprofit healthcare system in the nation and a hands-on supporter of his own community. Even with all of his success, his face beams with pride when he mentions his family, talking about the annual trip he takes back to Washington to work in the fields with his parents. His story reminds us to never forget where we came from and inspires us to see our personal growth as an opportunity to give back so that everyone can have the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.
After Geronimo’s monologue, we dove into a panel discussion with two additional health and wellness experts: Maria Hernandez, founder and executive director of VELA, a nonprofit organization where families of children with disabilities are given the tools and resources they need to flourish; and Andrea Venegas from the Center for Child Protection, where young victims of abuse are given space to begin the healing process. The speakers shared their visions, passions, and the importance of their work as it relates to making health and wellness more accessible for Hispanic Central Texans.
The Hispanic Impact Fund knows that listening and learning are critical to creating a more equitable Central Texas. Through Latino Monologues y Dialogues, we create an intentional space for community members to participate in conversations for positive change. After the panel, attendees were encouraged to turn to their neighbors and reflect on the state of health and wellness in Central Texas. While these conversations welcomed personal stories, we also asked participants to share what gives them hope for a healthier, more equitable Austin.
Geronimo asked in his monologue, “What if what we are going through is preparing us for what we have been asking for?” This question reminds us that even in the midst of the heaviest stories, we must hold space for what is possible, knowing that from our history, we can build greater futures.
The Hispanic Impact Fund will host three more Latino Monologues Y Dialogues in 2023 to hear other perspectives from community leaders and engage in meaningful conversations about the advancement of Hispanic Central Texans. Stay tuned for details about our next event on February 21, where we’ll discuss our newest strategy area, Leadership Development, with Celia Israel.
WE NEED YOU
In 2022, the Hispanic Impact Fund distributed $365,000 in grants to 24 organizations working in four impact areas, including $105,000 to health and wellness organizations providing quality, culturally-competent health services to our local Hispanic community. This year, the Hispanic Impact Fund plans to increase grant funding to $500,000, but we can’t do this without your help. To support this important work, donate to the Hispanic Impact Fund today.
Catalina Berry is the Programming & Engagement Chair of the Hispanic Impact Fund Steering Committee.