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"OLA Oregon Latinos in Action,"

by Virginia Camberos January/February 2011 issue of Poverty & Race

In looking back at my time as a Witt Intern, I am most proud of the newly formed Hispanic Committee (OLA Oregon Latinos in Action). They are very passionate about social justice and being part of an organization that will be very active in helping the Latino community.

The Latino community at first was afraid of sharing their stories of injustices. With my continued visits, I formed a trusting relationship within the community. One of the challenges I first had to face was to unite the Latino community in attending meetings. They did not like meeting in libraries or office buildings. House meetings were more effective.

Committee member Dolores Morales has been my right hand, and she has been very active in recruiting new members. Raf Mesta has shown leadership and is active in the community. He also works for the Department of Human Services. Hector Rodriguez is a young Latino who has a wonderful personality and will be a great asset to the organization in reaching the young Latinos.

Together, our Latinos in Action have had many successes:
  • Recruitment of a strong Hispanic leadership group within Oregon Action which we call Oregon Latinos in Action. The group has built a strong multicultural component among Rogue Valley community organizations.

  • Sponsoring a community forum in October 2009 about the effects of economic and tax policy on the Hispanic community. The Forum was led by Juan Carlos Ordonez of the Oregon Center for Public Policy in Spanish and proved to be a vital educational catalyst for the community.

  • Organizing Oregon Action’s first and very successful bi-lingual/bi-cultural fundraiser in December 2009. This fundraiser is now an annual event.

  • Organizing a survey of Latino health care patients in the Rogue Valley to identify language barriers in our local hospitals, August 2009 to August 2010. The report, “Lost in Translation,” outlined several key problem areas in medical translation locally. I helped organized a Latino team that met with the hospitals regarding the results of report, and won important improvements in language access.

  • I was a key organizer for our “We Are All Immigrants” Rally and March in September 2010 to promote immigration reform.

  • I enjoy reaching out to Latino families to sign up children for Oregon’s Healthy Kids program for a grant from the State of Oregon. I really do like canvassing, especially in the many mobile home parks in our area with large numbers of kids. I am proud to be able to add so many kids and families to the Oregon Healthy Kids Program.
I am very pleased now to be part of the Oregon Action staff and working to do outreach. It is wonderful to be involved in our community in order to make people's lives better.

Virginia Camberos Rogue Valley Oregon Action – Fair Share Research & Education Program, 33 N. Central Ave., #303, Medford, OR 97501.

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