Taste La Mercado Paloma: Celebrating a Decade of Community Development

By: Candice Aman

Photo by: Savore

Spirits were high as a surge of hope and anticipation pulsed through the air when guests began arriving at Mercado La Paloma, a bustling marketplace and economic development project in South L.A. that houses various vendors, services, and non-profits, for its 10th anniversary fundraising event on Friday.

Called “Taste of Mercado La Paloma,” the event celebrated the Mercado’s growth and impact upon the surrounding community by showcasing the best of what it has to offer: food, art, culture, and most importantly, the people that has helped to shape the project during the last decade.

“I don’t think that there’s been a plan for [the Mercado] to take 10 years to get to this point,” Bruce Saito, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and the night’s Master of Ceremonies said. “It’s been a challenge all those years but this place has made an incredible impact on the community.”

As a division of the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation (ECHC), an organization that strives to achieve long-term community development, Mercado La Paloma continues to be invaluable resource for the surrounding neighborhood by providing residents the opportunities for jobs, education, and healthcare all under one roof.

Julie Gutman, Executive Director of Program for Torture Victims (PTV), a non-profit dedicated to helping torture survivors from all over the world rebuild their lives, recounted stories of doing business from unstable work environments before finally coming into the Mercado in 2001.

Full article: http://caman.ascjweb.org/midtermaman.html

Dia de Los Muertos at Mercado La Paloma

 Join us for our 2nd Annual Dia de los Muertos celebration to honor, remember and celebrate the lives of those who have passed on and to share in the cultural roots of this indigenous holiday. We will have performers from singers, musicians, theatre to choreography. We will include a community altar for people who would like to participate with their offerings: photos, personal items, poetry, etc……. Lastly, we will have live art demonstrations to include face painting, leather work, traditional weaving and ceramics.

Mercado La Paloma 3655 S. Grand Ave. Los Angeles CA, 90007. Sunday October 30, 2011 from 11am – 8pm. Event is FREE and open to the general public!

So come out and celebrate Dia de los Muertos with us!

Promotores de Salud Helping Our Community!

The dust accumulating on Maria’s rug threatened the health of her three children and her mother, all of whom have asthma. She didn’t have a vacuum to clean her rug. Thanks to the Healthy Child Program at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, Maria received a free vacuum three months ago and now vacuums everyday. Her mother and children’s asthma symptoms have dramatically declined. The health improvement is not only the result of a rug vacuumed daily, but also of relevant information Maria learned through the Community Health Promoters program at Esperanza Community Housing Corporation.

Aliria, a community health promoter of 5 years, learned of Maria’s case through a referral from St. John’s Child and Wellness Center. On her first visit, Aliria asked Maria what housekeeping cleaning products she used. When Maria listed off products like bleach and Pinesol, Aliria suggested that these strong smelling substances often worsen children’s health. Instead, Aliria recommended natural cleaning products that work just as well, like baking soda and vinegar. Maria never knew such mixes were possible. She was amazed at how pleasant the smell was after implementing the natural products.

Recently, with the help of Aliria, Maria asked her landlord if he could replace the dirty rug altogether. After informing him that the rug was a potential threat to her family, the land lord replaced it. Community Health Promoters not only educates residents on how to improve the home environment, but also help tenants advocate on behalf of themselves. Maria is incredibly thankful to Esperanza and St. John’s because her children’s and mother’s asthma is now controlled after she learned how to improve the health of her home.

 Story by: Drea Chicas

Peruvian Food: The Next Big Thing

Growing enthusiasm for his national cuisine helped chef Ricardo Zarate achieve his dream of opening a Peruvian restaurant after a decade of frustration. Mr. Zarate, who went to cooking school in Lima, spent 12 years working in high-end Japanese restaurants in London.  Convinced that Peruvian food deserved a place on the world stage, he began hunting for investors in 2001, but couldn’t convince enough deep pockets that it was the next big thing. Finally, in 2009, while living in Los Angeles, he pulled together $30,000 and opened Mo-Chica, a stand serving six dishes in a market food court in downtown Los Angeles.

Read more: The Next Big Thing

Brenda Chour Another Successful Health Promoter

Brenda Chour Orantes graduated from Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training Program and is now an active leader in her community.

I am Brenda Chour, originally from Guatemala, my beloved homeland …I’ve been living for 7 years in this country. Like all immigrants, for personal reasons, I migrated to the United States. I left behind all my dreams, illusions, and most importantly, my family and my life. It was very difficult to adapt to a new land; uncertain and unknown. For a long time I tried to find a horizon that would change my life, but did not find it. During that time, I came across Hope Street Family Center, a program at California Hospital. They helped me with workshops and support for my little girl who had speech problems. There, talking to my social worker, she told me about  Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training Program, and gave me a sheet with a phone number and said to ask for Lupe or Norma. That call changed my life… I went to get an application, went through interview process, and waited for the acceptance call.  I was selected for the Promotores class 2010. Long were the six months, but very interesting and valuable teachings and trainings, self-discovery, sharing, personal development, etc…Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters Training changed my life! I was welcomed to  a new family, because you really get to be part of this large family of promoters. The personal support, emotional and career development I received from Norma was invaluable.  Graduation was a great experience where we receive tokens of affection and support from this new family. Upon completion of the training program began a new stage, the internship. Among the many difficult and personal moments in my life, I had the advantage that at the moment there were many people who supported me and gave me encouragement. I started my internship with the steady support of my friend Irma, also a Promotora.  The Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA), sister collaborator of Esperanza was another milestone for me. The knowledge I received from Esperanza and opportunity to learn about organizations and individuals who care about the development of Promotoras to go out there to support our communities, and immigrants like us, it opened the horizon I was looking for. I received lots of support and life lessons of all staff, especially Marlom Portillo. Continue reading

Irma Avila a Successful Health Promoter

Esperanza Community Housing’s Health Program’s vision in the mid 1990’s was that in the absence of a responsive health network in underserved areas, such as in the Maple/Adams-Hoover/Adams community of South Central Los Angeles where Esperanza is actively involved, there could be an indigenous, grass-roots leadership developed to guide the community to health.  Esperanza holds the belief that good health and access to quality healthcare are fundamental human rights, and that these rights can be translated into action through a well-developed assembly of community health leaders.

Irma Avila graduated from the program in 2010 and now is a successful Community Health Promoter helping out her community. 

My name is Irma Y. Avila; I am from Mexico City, mother and wife.  I feel I have been a Health Promoter all my life, but what I didn’t know is that there was an official name that gave formality to what I love to do;  which is to help my community.     As a member of the committee of parents from children’s school, Guisella Gutierrez, school coordinator told me that she had been watching me and that she knew a place called Esperanza Community Housing Corporation where I could apply and be trained to continue helping my community in a more effective way. 

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