In Fall, 2009, after much consideration, Centro decided to open the Olivia Herrera Community Center in memory of our founder Olivia Herrera. The Center, operating in the adjacent space at 2129 Long Beach Blvd., places an emphasis on education, community development, the arts, and cultural education. While Centro Shalom has primarily focused on direct services, the OHCC will provide clients with a range of classes and peer mentoring to encourage youth empowerment, improve mental and physical health, and teach computer and job search skills and interviewing techniques. Here’s a brief overview of some of the programs that are happening or in process:
Computer Lab: Courses will be taught in our computer lab to provide technical skills training on major PC Windows based programs to those seeking to improve their job skills. We intend to offer classes on a seven-week basis for three different skill levels. These classes will be open predominantly for our Spanish-speaking population although we hope to add a tutoring component.
Adult literacy: Centro is replicating the very successful Centro Latino literacy program currently operating in Los Angeles using self-paced computer study for Spanish-speaking adults. Maria Eugenia and her husband Javier Rivas have coordinated the donation of seven brand-new laptop computers, recruited tutors, and begun the program as of December 2009. Our first graduation is in March 2010.
Youth Organizing Institute: Created and run by Evelyn Knight, Dr. Alex Norman, Marc Coleman, and Amelia Nieto, this program will teach community youth how to do effective grassroots community organizing. The initial plans and curriculum for this 20-week program have been developed and the institute will begin recruiting in 2010.
Parent Advocacy and Effective Family Seminars: The OHCC offers parent advocacy courses and continue with its Couples Relationship Workshop and other seminars geared towards families. Seminars are provided on weekends. Family counseling will also be offered each week and there will also be seminars presented every other month on various topics dealing with the adult community’s mental, emotional, and physical well being.
Self Esteem Classes: In addition to the Women’s Self-Esteem Workshop, which Centro has been offering since 1996, OHCC will also offer new self esteem and emotional enhancement classes for men and women.
Yoga Classes: Yoga classes are held here Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m., led by Maria Eugenia Rivas. Her husband Javier plans to initiate a men’s class soon.
Ballet Folklorico Classes: Started by Maria Eugenia and Grupo Yamin , the Olivia Herrera Ballet Folklorico practices every Saturday morning and is open to community members who are interested in joining. New class meeting days can be added as necessary to accommodate the participants.