LatinaLista -- Learning English, getting an education or knowing what the basic rules and laws are of living in the United States can be overwhelming for immigrants new to this country. Yet in California's Sonoma Valley, immigrants have been getting a helping hand in seeing "la luz" (the light) when it comes to acquiring the skills and knowledge for living in the U.S.
The light doesn't come from a light bulb but La Luz Center whose main objective is to help immigrants succeed.
At La Luz Center, services to help achieve their mission range from English lessons and health and nutritional sessions to voter and civic education, along with, personal and family counseling services. They also help people find housing, get their GEDs and fill out confusing -- even for English-speakers -- government forms.
The hope of the Center's new executive director, Yvonne Hall, is to provide more programs for women and children, but it takes money. Yet, La Luz is proud that there is no gap between donations and the help people are receiving. Over 85 percent of all funds raised by the Center go directly to providing services and programs.
Perhaps most importantly, La Luz personnel show their clients that they are there for them. One way is by presenting achievement awards to children in elementary and middle school who excel in school and by providing scholarships to those students who want to go on to college, many of whom are the first to graduate from high school in their families.
The overall health and well-being of our community are greatly affected by the health and well-being of our most challenged citizens. The best way to insure that all of us can continue to fully enjoy our quality of life in the Sonoma Valley is to insure that all of the members of our community have an opportunity to become an integral part of the community.