On May 2, 2017, under the inspiration of Tanya Gonzalez, Executive Director of Sacred Heart Center in Richmond, Va., and Lauren Winston, community activist for WIC: Wholesome Informed Choices: Women, Infants and Children and a parishioner at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, forty community members, primarily Latino and African-American, broke bread together and began conversations aimed at learning more about the other, their backgrounds and cultures, what keeps them awake at night and their communities’ greatest needs. The St. Elizabeth folks provided the food, while the Sacred Heart community (Church and Center) hosted the event.
People from different cultures shared their hopes and struggles at the Sacred Heart Center.
While names, languages, cultures, and favorite foods may have differed, there was close alignment on community needs. Latinos spoke passionately of their fear of deportation, racial profiling and lack of bilingual services in the schools. African Americans spoke, with equal passion, of the stereotyping of young black males, treatment of persons with mental issues in jails and prisons, and inadequate funding for education in the area.
Future opportunities for interaction and action on shared issues were voiced by many. Recognizing how much we share greatly outweighed our differences. Next steps are in the planning.