BOWLING GREEN - Recognizing the growth of the Latino population in Wood County, a new Latino community-based organization has been established. La Conexion seeks to be a welcoming resource of unity and representation for the Latino community in northwest Ohio.
The organization's steering committee includes Beatriz Maya, Al Gonzales, Marsha Olivarez and Esther Garcia-Tio. Reports show while Ohio's population has declined since 2000, Hispanic and African American populations in the state have increased.
"The Latino population has grown 40 percent since the 2000 Census in this county," Maya said. "However, we still remain largely invisible. Not only in Wood County, but all over Ohio. I would say that we have much to gain by being organized and speaking with a collective voice."
"We are currently in the process of building community and trying to respond to community needs," Gonzalez said.
"There was a need in the community for an organization that would help us establish and nurture connections among Latinos and with the Wood County community, this is La Conexion," Olivarez added.
Garcia-Tio said it is important to "promote educational and research activities to benefit Latinos and to highlight Latino contributions in Wood County."
David Olivarez, manager of El Zarape restaurant and a member of La Conexion, said he believes there is great talent in the community.
"We have to identify our potential and provide people with the opportunities to succeed," he said.
The organization's activities are run by several working committees. The organization conducts English as a Second Language classes and a children's enrichment program in space donated by the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Bowling Green.
Teachers for both programs are provided through collaborations with Bowling Green State University faculty and the Latino Student Union. La Conexion is fiscally sponsored by Perrysburg Heights Community Association.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (419) 308-2328.