It was an exciting day for the Hispanic Resource Center as they opened the doors to its new home on Mamaroneck Avenue and celebrated the move with a special ribbon cutting attended by many of the area's government officials, local clergy and othr community members who helped make the move possible.
"This is the first time that we have really had an adequate home and we are tremendously excited," said John Gitlitz, Chairman of the Board of the Hispanic Resource Center. "So many people have worked hard to make this day possible."
Prior to this move, the center had its main office at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Boston Post Road and its worker center at the Strait Gate Church, which recently filed for bankruptcy. On April 1, it relocated to its current location at 623 Mamaroneck Avenue so that all of its programs could be in one place.
Executive Director Zoe Colon welcomed the supporters and guests, and called on Village of Mamaroneck Deputy Mayor Louis Santoro, Village Manager Richard Slingerland and Town Supervisor Valerie O'Keeffe to help her with the ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of the center.
"This is a wonderful location for us. We are very blessed," Colon said. "We have grown a great deal with the number of clients we serve and this is a prime location to house all our services and programs under one roof for the first time."
Members of the clergy from around the area were asked to give their blessings and then the celebration began.
"It's a great day for the Hispanic Resource Center to establish themselves in a more permanent location to better serve the community," said Slingerland. "The village is very happy to work with them and make this happen."
Founded in 1998 by individuals from the Larchmont-Mamaroneck area in response to the needs of the growing immigrant population, the HRC has been providing help to the Hispanic community with a number of important services and programs.
"Today is a special day because the Hispanic Center serves the community very well," said Santoro. "They have an education center, job opportunities and help with family problems. People can come and get comfortable and talk about what's going on and proceed with their everyday lives."
After the ribbon cutting, Colon led tours through the center, showcasing its many programs and services, including a new computer lab and increased vocational training opportunities made possible by a workforce development grant recently awarded by the Ford Foundation.
"This is a wonderful day because finally we have our own place and it's right in the heart of the Hispanic community," said Emilia Gedraza, who works at the center.
A big part of the center is helping Hispanic workers find jobs, whether it's matching prospective applicants with employees looking to fill positions, or managing the day laborers for jobs in the area.
"We've been running for three years and it's taken a little while, but now the workers and employers are starting to come," said Marisa Senteno, worker center coordinator, who organizes the day laborers at the center. "It's great that we have this new location and getting some promotion so we can get the jobs that we need."
One of the sponsors for the center is Wells Fargo, and each week, Gus Laserna, a home mortgage consultant, comes down to talk with people who need help and advice.
"I come by and answer any questions people have about possibly purchasing a home or refinancing an existing home. I usually try to get them on their feet to buy a first-time home," he said. "This is a great place as it gives back to the community and helps people grow and this is what this country is all about; the American Dream. The home part is part of the equation and if I can help with that, it's a great success."