‘You Are Essential’ to Our Pandemic Recovery

‘You Are Essential’ to Our Pandemic Recovery

Last week the Raza Development Fund was proud to sponsor and participate in the Latino Community Foundation’s ‘You Are Essential’ gala – a virtual event and fundraiser to honor essential workers who continue to show up for all of us. Our farmworkers, grocery store workers, first responders and more have all worked tirelessly during the pandemic to provide fresh food, healthcare and other necessities to communities across the country.

Latinos make up 70 percent of essential workers in the U.S.! They’re our Familia – our siblings, parents, aunts, uncles and our cousins.

As such, the Latino community has been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

According to data from the UnidosUS Latino COVID-19 Dashboard, Latinos are twice as likely to contract the virus, four times as likely to be hospitalized and three times as like to die from the virus.

“A stark reality of the pandemic is that poor Latino, Black, immigrant communities, small businesses within these communities, and poor families will bear the brunt of the short and long-term economic and health maladies resulting from the pandemic,” says Tom Espinoza, RDF’s President & CEO in our 2020 Annual Report.

It is more important than ever for our Latino community to stand together and help each other as we begin to heal and hopefully soon rebuild from this pandemic. And that was the intent of the ‘You Are Essential’ gala.

Celebrate Each Other

We must heal first by coming together and celebrating each other.

While virtual, the Latino Community Foundation (LCF) developed a unique platform to bring Latino-serving organizations and community members together. They hosted the fiesta to celebrate those who have made an incredible difference during these difficult times.

As Latinos, even when we face a hardship, we danced to great music and cheered on our community with a chat box and a virtual mercado to support small businesses. We heard from California’s elected officials, and members of the ‘In the Heights’ movie cast.

During the event, LCF recognized CBS reporter Adriana Diaz for her leadership, compassion and pursuit of the truth with the Nuestro Orgullo award. They celebrated Armando Valdez, who took action and delivered food to remote areas of Central Valley, California and presented him with the Leading Change Award. And they honored Chef Jose Andres with the 2021 Trailblazer in Philanthropy award for his work supporting restaurants and providing meals to the frontlines.

“We must create a world with longer tables and not higher walls feeding our communities how they deserve to be fed,” Chef Jose Andres said. “This is our moment to build the future in which we want to live.”

Support Each Other

To rebuild we must support each other.

That’s why RDF has worked so hard to support small businesses to keep their door open. One business saved from closure results in saved jobs and saved wages. With financial support, businesses can afford to purchase items they need from grocery stores, farms and other resources. It all goes back to our essential workers – a circle of support.

Recently, Congress introduced the Citizenship for Essential Workers Act to allow these individuals to be eligible for a path to citizenship. It is estimated that five million of our essential workers are undocumented. As they tirelessly work for us during these difficult times, they currently lack any protection from deportation.

These are the critical times to let our voices be heard.

Though the gala is over, you can still support LCF and celebrate by watching the recorded virtual gala.

As the crew from ‘In the Heights’ said during the virtual event, “Let the world hear the roar of Latinos rising up again!”

Together, we can heal and rebuild. Each of us are ‘essential’ to our recovery from this pandemic.

Rachel Jimenez

Rachel Jimenez serves in the RDF’s Communications Department as Social Media Specialist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Mass Communications from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. Rachel has extensive experience supporting content marketing efforts for national and state non-profits, as well as small businesses.

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