At the age of fifteen I was introduced to the term “Beloved Community,” as Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) described it. At the time, residents of South Central Elkhart, the neighborhood in which I grew up in, were taking a stand against a project to demolish what is now known as the Historic Roosevelt Center. The preservation of the building would bring about affordable housing for low-income families, maintain the integrity of its location at the heart of the neighborhood, and bring forth new community spaces for fellowship and engagement. I come from a family line of community advocates and organizers, so naturally my uncle and dad jumped into the community efforts to stop the center’s demolition that was a few blocks from our home. At the time I asked, "What is so important about this building?" I remember my dad’s response being the first time he encouraged my intuition and critical thinking. He told me, “It is not about the building, but more about what it will transform if we come together and win! All we have to do is care.” I realize that I haven’t stopped caring since then.
The “Beloved Community” as I have learned from it over the years, is a group of people that cares and acts with reconciliation in their hearts to drive change. La Casa de Amistad has become a “Beloved Community” for those that serve through it, or support it every day to drive changes in community practices, service access, and policies. We head into 2024, and our 51st year in existence, with much pride and hope for what we can become with and for our Latino, Hispanic, and immigrant communities. It doesn’t come without its challenges, as we continue to see compromise and barriers against the thousands of lives that we serve every day. With each day, before and after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we recommit to the community that stands for the transformation that will ensure a better quality of life for all. A life that does not entertain bigotry or violence against the most vulnerable.
Thank you for trusting La Casa de Amistad to be the partner and safe space you need to begin or act on transformation. It is our commitment to challenge and reconcile for the betterment of our community, and for the future generations we serve. I wish everyone a reflective and transformative Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Que viva la gente pobre y desposeída! Que vivan los trabajadores inmigrantes! Que viva el futuro sin racismo y pobreza!
On the eve of our organization's 50th Anniversary, La Casa de Amistad was notified that we were awarded the largest grant in the organization's history. A $1,000,000 grant has been awarded to La Casa de Amistad by Lilly Endowment Inc. to strengthen our youth programs across a three-year timeline. We are humbled and honored to accept this Lilly Endowment award.
Executive Director Juan Constantino is overjoyed to share the news with you, our biggest supporters: ""We are thrilled to receive this transformational gift from Lilly Endowment to support the youth and families at La Casa de Amistad. This gift is a testament to the hard work of our dedicated staff and volunteers. It will amplify our impact on the future of our youth, families, and community."
The $1 million grant will give La Casa de Amistad the opportunity to expand youth programs for K-12 bilingual students and their families, invest in classroom technology, improve our kitchen facilities, hire more staff with specializations in mental health, volunteer management, and parent engagement, and build a playground.
The program is being funded through Lilly Endowment's initiative, Strengthening Youth Programs in Indiana. The aim of the competitive initiative is to help youth-serving organizations working throughout Indiana improve their abilities to promote the academic, physical, and social well-being of young people, ages five through 18.
This extraordinary grant only provides funding to improve youth programs. We rely on the generosity of donors to ensure that all programs run effectively each year. Consider giving La Casa de Amistad a Congratulatory donation online to celebrate our new endeavors.
We were devastated to learn of the shooting this past weekend during a time when we should be celebrating and uplifting the history, culture, diversity, and contributions of the Hispanic community in our city. Celebrations can happen in many different ways, and how we acknowledge and give visibility to our pride and joy matters. The shooting this weekend was unacceptable and harmful to the families that make up our community.
The shooting took place in the heart of our West Side community, where families live, work, go to school, play, and worship. Vehicles, homes, and people were impacted by bullets, where families should be safe and comfortable. Families and their children should never fear for their safety, especially during a time of joy and celebration. Our families and community deserve better than this.
As we learn from this incident, we encourage our community members to not sit back and allow violence to escalate in our neighborhoods. Our mission at La Casa de Amistad is to empower the Latino, Hispanic, and immigrant communities through education, culture, and advocacy in a welcoming bilingual environment. It is our role to serve our community through its social concerns and advocate for the changes we need to ensure families are safe and thriving. We encourage anyone with concerns or information around this incident to speak up and invite you to advocate for the safety of our community with us. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Michiana Crime Stoppers at 574-288-STOP.
La Casa de Amistad thanks the Mayor’s Office and the South Bend Police Department for working with our City’s community organizations and leaders as the investigation continues. St. Adalbert Catholic Church will be hosting a prayer service today, Sept. 20 at 6:30 PM, for anyone who would like to join in solidarity. If you have any other inquiries or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at 574-233-2120. #LaCasaEsTuCasa
Quedamos devastados al enterarnos del tiroteo el fin de semana pasado durante un momento en el que deberíamos celebrar y resaltar la historia, la cultura, la diversidad y las contribuciones de la comunidad Hispana en nuestra ciudad. Las celebraciones se pueden llevar a cabo de varias maneras, y es importante cómo reconocemos y damos visibilidad a nuestro orgullo y alegría. El tiroteo de este fin de semana fue inaceptable y perjudicó a las familias que son parte de nuestra comunidad.
El tiroteo tuvo lugar en el corazón de nuestra comunidad del West Side, donde las familias viven, trabajan, van a la escuela, juegan y van a misa. Vehículos, casas y personas fueron impactadas por las balas, donde las familias deberían estar seguras y cómodas. Las familias y sus hijos nunca deben temer por su seguridad, especialmente durante un momento de alegría y celebración. Nuestras familias y comunidad merecen mucho mejor.
A medida que aprendemos de este incidente, animamos a los miembros de nuestra comunidad a no quedarse sentados y permitir que la violencia aumente en nuestras comunidades. Nuestra misión en La Casa de Amistad es empoderar a las comunidades Latinas, Hispanas e inmigrantes a través de la educación, la cultura y la abogacía en un ambiente bilingüe acogedor. Nuestro papel en la comunidad es servir a través de las preocupaciones sociales y abogar por los cambios que necesitamos para garantizar que las familias estén seguras y sean prósperas. Motivamos a cualquier persona que tenga inquietudes o información sobre este incidente a que hable. Les invitamos a defender la seguridad de nuestra comunidad con nosotros. Se recomienda que cualquier persona que tenga información se comunique con Michiana Crime Stoppers al 574-288-STOP.
La Casa de Amistad agradece a la Oficina del Alcalde y al Departamento de Policía de South Bend por trabajar con las organizaciones y líderes comunitarios de nuestra ciudad mientras continúa la investigación. St. Adalbert Catholic Church organizará un servicio de oración hoy, 20 de septiembre a las 6:30 p.m., para cualquiera que desee unirse en solidaridad. Si tiene alguna otra consulta o comentario, no dude en contactarnos al 574-233-2120. #LaCasaEsTuCasa
On June 21, 2021, La Casa de Amistad opened its doors to our new and current site on S. Michigan St. Today marks two years of being open, growth, development, changes, challenges, and continued support toward our Latino, Hispanic, and immigrant communities.
To everyone involved, Happy Opening Anniversary Day! Here’s to two years in our space and to many more. Thank you for the commitment everyone. None of our work is possible without YOU. If you haven’t already, please reach out to plan a tour, get involved, or ask to get on our mailing list to stay tuned on future events and projects. Thank you everyone for everything you have done to support our Community Center and thank you in advanced for your continued support down the road.
We are seeking high-energy, driven interns and volunteers for our summer youth camps from June to August, M-F 12-6PM.
Interning with La Casa de Amistad offers a unique opportunity to gain real-world experience, make a meaningful impact in the community, and develop essential skills while contributing to a cause greater than oneself.
The full position details are below with information on how to apply. Please contact Beto@lacasadeamistad.org if you have any questions.
Summer Youth Programs Assistant Internship
JOB TITLE: Summer Youth Assistant Internship
LOCATION: La Casa de Amistad, Inc.
DATES OF POSITION: Early June to Mid August (week of July 4 off)
TIME COMMITMENT: 9 to 10 weeks, usually M-F 12PM-6PM but may change depending on
planning plus some weekend family events and field trips
SUMMARY OF POSITION:
The Summer Youth Coordinator Assistant will help organize and manage La Casa de Amistad’s summer programs, Crece Conmigo (2-5 grade), Florecer (6-8 grade) and Adelante (9-12 grade). This unique position requires lots of energy and involves working with children and youth between the ages of 6 and 17 years old while using organizational and creative skills.
SUPERVISOR: Humberto Delgado, Assistant Executive Director/Director of Youth Programs
Lizeth Ochoa, Crece Conmigo Coordinator
Gladys Rosas, Florecer Coordinator
On the job training will be provided for each project and/or activity.
Please contact 574-233-2120 for more questions. Submit your cover letter and resume to La Casa de Amistad in person or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Position posted until filled.
We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Dara Marquez Venegas as Director of Community Engagement for La Casa de Amistad.
In this new role, Dara will be an executive leader for the organization by managing front-line staff, leading advocacy and community engagement efforts, and supporting marketing and fundraising efforts. This is a new, pivotal position for La Casa de Amistad and we believe Dara will do an outstanding job setting the bar for success.
Dara joins La Casa de Amistad in a career shift from chemical engineering after experiencing a renewed passion for immigration policy as a volunteer community organizer throughout the state of Indiana. As a board member of Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance (IUYA), Dara created a scholarship fund and mentorship program to empower undocumented youth to attend college. She is skilled in grassroots organizing for the purpose of improving access to higher education among youth and improving the overall quality of life of undocumented families through her work for Movimiento Cosecha. She has additional leadership experience in advocacy at the Statehouse on topics ranging from college affordability to the implementation of Driving Cards.
Dara has a diverse skill set with experience in fundraising, events, marketing, people management, and small business operations. As a trained engineer, she has a keen eye on problem-solving and improving detailed processes from a big-picture vantage point. She and her family own and operate a successful dance club in Elkhart called The Arena. She is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College (BS, Chemistry) and Purdue University (MS, Chemical Engineering) and attended school as a DACA student.