Working with Western Michigan’s vulnerable immigrant child population
Martha Gonzalez-Cortez of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan works with the Latino and the broader community to provide education-based programs that support families, adults and children.
Every child – no matter their background or heritage – deserves the opportunity to live a safe and happy life. However, Martha Gonzalez-Cortez of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan will tell you that national immigration policies are putting that opportunity out of reach for our most vulnerable children.
“There have been some significant changes in immigration enforcement policies in the last handful of years and they have deeply impacted children in our community,” said Gonzalez-Cortez, CEO of the Grand Rapids-based non-profit. “We had more than 300 people removed in neighborhood blitz-type raids in January and February of 2011. That’s the kind of activity that has forced us as an organization to start doing survival trainings with young people who had lots and lots of questions about what happens during a raid.”
The Hispanic Center’s mission statement is simple: “To Serve. To Educate. To Advocate.” It’s clear, concise and admirable, but when it comes to the well-being of immigrant children and families, there’s no doubt that for Gonzalez-Cortez, her staff and volunteers it means much more. That’s why the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is a proud supporter of the Hispanic Center’s more than 30-year track record of providing the community with the services needed to bridge gaps in cultural differences, build self-sufficiency in individuals and families, and ultimately grow an integrated, stronger community together.