From Mexican and Argentinian to Ecuadorian, Panamanian, and many more, our local Latinx community is diversely comprised of folks who have relocated for a number of reasons—and no matter why they decided to make Memphis their home, there’s so much that goes into helping them acclimate well.
Whether it be navigating language barriers, getting students enrolled in schools, providing legal counsel, career opportunities, or the like, there are numerous nonprofits that are locally-based who work to make the transition as smooth as possible.
“As the primary provider of services to this community, we have dedicated ourselves to the idea that every Latino Memphian should have the opportunity and resources to become an engaged and active participant in making our city great.” – Mauricio Calvo
Since its beginning in 1995, Latino Memphis has grown to be largest Latino-serving nonprofit in West Tennessee—offering services through four key programs, El Centro, Abrienda Puertas, Derechos, and Tu Voz, to assist with matters concerning health, education, community engagement, immigration services, and more. Not only has their staff dedicated themselves to being service providers for this community, but they have opportunities for others to lend a hand, whether Spanish-speaking or not.
Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group
“We are never not educating someone,” Sanchez said. “Our plays are bilingual—español y inglés,” says Sanchez. “So people who speak Spanish learn their lines in English, and those who speak English get a chance to learn their lines in Spanish. We are a multicultural group made up of Colombians, Argentines, Mexicans, etc., and we’re a family-friendly theatre with everybody from mothers to sons to grandparents represented—so there are many opportunities for everyone to learn from one another and broaden their horizons.”
With a decade of operation under their belt, Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group exists as Memphis and Mississippi’s first bilingual theatre group founded by five women who wanted to share their love of theatre with the Latinx community. With a mission to bridge cultures and connections through the arts, the nonprofit organization aims to be both a resource for learning and outlet for self expression.
Normally we’d be gathering for their yearly events and productions, but in response to COVID times, they’ve pivoted to bring some of their programming directly to us via the world wide web. From now until the end of the month, tune in to Virtual Latin Fest, featuring performances, artistic presentations, dance classes, and cultural conversations that are relevant to the community. And be sure to make note of the rest of the 2020 programming which includes a Dia de los Muertos Festival and Parade at the end of October and 12 Days of Navidad in December.
Su Casa Family Ministries
Su Casa Memphis has been bridging the gap between first generation Hispanic immigrants and resident Memphians since its birth in 2005 when it was developed in response to the problem of language barriers. With their two main programs, Adult English Classes and a faith-based, bilingual pre-school program for 1-4 year olds, they aid the Latino immigrant community by offering hands-on instruction to help them better connect with the greater Memphis community.
Learn more about their Pre-school Program here.
If you’re interested in being a part of the good work they are doing, learn more about volunteer opportunities with SU Casa here.
In addition to what they do year-round, Su Casa is also providing pandemic support to these families with Su Caja, or Your Box—a pre-school activity box for ages 1-4 that contains everything needed for four days of learning and activities. The boxes cost $25/week per child, and can be ordered in English or Spanish to help students keep up with the progress they made pre-COVID.
Want to give the gift of language barrier breakdowns? They are working to give away 25 boxes a month, and your $25 donation could help them do so. Donate today!
I’m sure we can imagine what it takes for a Latino adult to assimilate into American culture, but what about children who don’t yet have the emotional development to truly grasp their new experiences? Las Americas provides our city’s only Youth Development Center that focuses on helping Latino youth immerse themselves into their new communities.
Their presence in 13 Shelby County Schools, providing ESL tutoring, coupled with weekly outreach events, character building programs, and more helps move their mission—”to provide a safe place for Latino youth and families to develop healthy minds, bodies and spirits for long-term success in America”—forward.
“I know the struggle some of these kids are going through with learning a new language and navigating a school system; but at the same time, they are experiencing more than what I did with social media pressuring them with what’s normal and how they aren’t,” said Erick Ramos, former Youth Director at Multinational Memphis.
As the oldest and largest refugee/immigrant ministry in Memphis, it’s no surprise that immigrants from all over the world come to Multinational Memphis in hopes of finding community and support for their transition in life. By providing safe spaces for folks to freely be themselves, and utilizing programming like English For Moms and Wednesday T.A.R.G.E.T kids, families are able to feel that their cultures are valued and accepted—and will only add to what Memphis has to offer.
Interested in volunteering with Multinational Memphis? Because of the large number of people that MM serves, they need all the help they can get. Submit an application today to hear about their opportunities.
World Relief Memphis
What started as simple English classes in a two-bedroom apartment in Bartlett has transformed into one of Memphis’ welcome centers to immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. World Relief Memphis has been serving people from all over the world since 2012, offering refugee resettlement, employment, legal, and language learning services. With 100+ students from over 28 countries, ranging from Venezuela to Kenya, WRM seeks to understand, respect, and empower those individuals to build upon their new-found freedoms.
Volunteers and partners are crucial to the fulfillment of World Relief’s vision for transformation in the lives of the people it serves. Learn more about how you can support their efforts here.
Hundreds of migrant families seeking asylum pass through, and settle down, in Memphis each year—and Mariposas Collective, a grassroots group driven by loving our neighbors, provides relief in the form of meals, clothing, toys for the children, toiletries, translators, and more.
See their work outlined here, with the Daily Memphian, and the Commercial Appeal—and stay up to date on their needs by following along on their Facebook page. If you feel called to support to their efforts, make a donation here, or reach out to see if you can give your time instead as a volunteer.
La Prensa Latina Hispanic News
La Prensa Latina is not a nonprofit, per se, but as the Mid-South’s largest bilingual news source, its an essential part of the community. While most of us rarely have to think about how and where to access the news, others rely on multilingual media to stay in the know. Local journalism does the important work of connecting and engaging people with their neighborhoods and cities, and La Prensa is an important part of that effort here in Memphis. You can check out their news updates here, and see each E-Edition of their paper here.