On May 29, our Red Cross region hosted its first Latino Leadership Summit. Held at Urban Ventures in Minneapolis, the summit brought together local Red Cross leaders and Latino community representatives for a conversation about emergency preparedness. Eleven people representing Latino groups, businesses or service organizations attended. They learned more about the importance of being prepared before disasters happen as well as Red Cross services and programs. They offered, in return, insights into how the Red Cross can do a better job sharing its preparedness message with Spanish-speaking communities and helping them become more disaster resilient in Minnesota.
Here are some highlights:
Victoria Krook (above), a K-12 educator in Brooklyn Center, says that reaching Latino families one-on-one is best. Winter, she says, is a major emergency issue to address in Latino communities: “Parents don’t know frostbite, how quickly it can happen.”
Maria Arboleda (above center), a program coordinator in higher education, says that many Latino families have resources to be prepared for disasters, but that “if we want to get this education out to communities, then we need more Spanish speakers and more people from the communities.”
“Every mom is a first responder,” says Arturo Lopez (above left), a cadet in law enforcement training. Lopez says that building trust, reaching children and training women are keys to sharing preparedness messages with Latino families.
Our Latino community partners left the summit with fresh enthusiasm and concrete action steps for preparing and preventing emergencies at home and work. Our Red Cross action plan includes helping them reach their goals and building on our new shared energy.
Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross
This month way say “adios amiga” to our friend and co-worker Viviana Sotro who has accepted an executive director position at a local Latino family organization.
For twelve years, Sotro has provided emergency preparedness education to thousands of people across the Minneapolis-St.Paul metro area. In the Latino community alone, she has reached around 10,000 people with safety & preparedness education, which she believes is worthwhile. “I can say, yes, preparedness education makes a difference. I can see it on their faces. They say, now I know.”
Trained as a Red Cross EMT in Argentina, Sotro has long understood that diverse communities in Minnesota might need to learn about being safe during severe weather and other emergencies. “I could relate to them because most people from Latin countries have never experienced tornadoes.” In 2002, Sotro joined the Red Cross in Minnesota as a volunteer and the following year she accepted a staff position. Later, she became the community outreach manager guiding staff and volunteers in their work teaching people from Africa, Asia, and Latin America who now make Minnesota their home. “I really like to be respectful of other cultures. Everyone has something unique to appreciate.”
Although Sotro is departing her Red Cross job, she plans to continue being involved as a volunteer. Her hope, she says, is that diverse community engagement with the Red Cross increases. “I would like to see more Latinos wearing Red Cross t-shirts as volunteers.” She would especially like to see more people from diverse communities become Red Cross instructors, disaster relief workers, and good samaritans trained in CPR & First Aid.
Thank you, Viviana, for being a part of the Red Cross and helping to fulfill our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. We wish you and your family the very best.