Because of obstacles like language barriers and unreliable access to technology, it has been difficult for some Spanish speakers in Northern Nevada to receive accurate news about COVID-19 and available local resources. In an effort to reach more Latinos, organizations like Tu Casa Latina have been working to connect the community with resources and up-to-date information in Spanish and English.
Since 2014, the staff of nonprofit Tu Casa Latina has assisted the northern Nevada Latino community with issues related to immigration, domestic violence, human trafficking and other violent crimes.
Before the statewide closures of non-essential businesses, a typical day for staff at the organization involved checking on open cases, answering questions, planning and executing outreach events and referring the public to helpful resources in the community. Since the shutdown, though, they haven’t taken on any more clients because they’re not in the office. It wasn’t until a donor recently gave them a Zoom account that they could plan to meet with old and new clients again.
The organization has had to get creative with all of its operations. Sandra Quiroz, the executive director of Tu Casa Latina, said that despite all the changes, they are constantly looking for solutions.
“Every challenge is an opportunity,” Quiroz said. “It’s a new world, it’s a new way of doing things. We just need to adapt.”
And they’ve had to do a lot of adapting. For security reasons, they don’t take case files outside of their building, so Quiroz and her staff of two have to go to their office to view them. They also do not use their personal phones for case-related tasks, so they have been occasionally checking the office phone to return calls and check voicemails. All the while, the team has to coordinate who does these things and when, since their office is small and only one of them can be in the office at a time to maintain proper social distancing.
Quiroz added that their biggest struggle has always been funding, which has only become more pressing as the pandemic progressed.
Still, these obstacles haven’t kept them from informing the community. One kind of event they have been doing more regularly since the pandemic is “Cafecitos.” These are livestreams conducted on Facebook, where Tu Casa Latina usually partners up with another local organization to provide information and resources. The need for these came about a few months ago, when the organization began seeing lower turnouts for its in-person events. The team realized this was the result of some people feeling more vulnerable while in public.
“Our immigrant community became concerned,” Quiroz said. “There was a fear of going out and being part of a raid … or just being profiled for having brown skin.”
Tu Casa Latina’s solution was utilizing social media. Quiroz noticed that nearly all their clients had a Facebook, so earlier this year they started hosting Cafecitos to connect with more people. Even though COVID-19 caused an interruption in their regularity, they recently started up again.
Now, online Cafecitos are especially important in bringing information to the Spanish speaking community. The most recent Cafecito was in partnership with María Davis, the COVID-19 Regional Information Officer. During this livestream, Itzayana Montoya Adame, the outreach coordinator at Tu Casa Latina, talked with Davis about the coronavirus. It was held completely in Spanish so they could reach a larger audience. Adame said this Cafecito was dedicated to clarifying facts from myths about COVID-19.
Adame emphasized that these events were important in connecting people with resources and organizations that can help them.
“A lot of these resources are not super well known within the Spanish-speaking immigrant community,” she said.
In addition to its own events, Tu Casa Latina also works in conjunction with other organizations hosting their own in Northern Nevada. On May 29, they will host an event in partnership with the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCEDSV). The webinar will be about how to recognize and respond to abuse against children with developmental disabilities, and Tu Casa Latina will present the information in Spanish. Those interested in attending can register here.
Throughout all of this, Quiroz said she and her staff have worked with a lot of heart, and are always available to those who need them—especially right now.
“Tu Casa Latina is one of many agencies that really want to help our community,” she said. “So never lose hope.”
Bianca Wright is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she is studying to get a double major in Journalism and Spanish. Aside from being a lifelong writer, she has a passion for photography, traveling, and learning about other cultures. In the past, she’s written several news articles for Noticerio Móvil, a bilingual newspaper at UNR. There, she reported on stories related to topics like DACA and COVID-19 in Spanish and English. With her writing, she aims to find creative and respectful ways to help tell the stories of underrepresented communities in Northern Nevada.