History of the Hispanic Roundtable/ La Mesa Redonda
La Mesa Redonda got it’s start in December, 2002 with a group of about 15 people from organizations that serve the Spanish speaking communities of Thurston and Mason Counties. The purpose of the initial meeting was to bring together agencies who were serving the same population groups but had not had the opportunity to meet in a formal setting. The meeting was a great success and accomplished the purpose that had been set. Social service agencies, Medical, and government programs as well as some private business owners showed up and shared about their services, accomplishments, goals, needs, and challenges. It was agreed that they wanted to meet again and on a regular basis. The new goal was to discover and explore all programs, activities, and services within agencies that served the Spanish speaking, but were not commonly known or very well promoted. As a result of continued meetings, a Coalition of professionals, primarily of those working with Spanish speaking communities, and/or those desiring to improve services to these communities was formed. Initial meetings involved acquiring information about the programs that were present as well as having discussions around difficulties they were facing with lack of resources and gaps in service. The Hispanic Roundtable eventually voted on a name for the group and refer to themselves as La Mesa Redonda. Within a year of having met only six times, La Mesa Redonda accomplished the following goals:
- A brochure of resources and programs in Thurston County and vicinity that provided services in Spanish. (The brochure was also translated professionally in Spanish).
- Held an Interpreter’s Forum that explored problems related to essential services that were being provided without proper interpretation.
- La Mesa Redonda experienced approximately 300% growth in participation at meetings.
- La Mesa Redonda presented at the National Hispanic Celebration for State employees at OB1 Auditorium. This was televised.
- Three co-facilitators were elected to assist with the continued planning and development of the Coalition.
- La Mesa Redonda had Antonio Sanchez, PhD from the Lt. Governor’s Office present on the History of Latinos in Washington State. This was televised.
The second year we began by celebrating our accomplishments and setting goals for the year. The goals for the second year were voted on and are as follow:
- to conduct a Latino Youth Conference with the focus being The Importance of Education.
- to represent ourselves for the Hispanic sector on more boards and committees in order to establish a presence and have a voice on issues related to Hispanics.
- to build a website to promote activities, encourage contact between members and keep members and others updated. Ivan Rodriguez, from CHOICE Regional Health Network.
Through the combined efforts of La Mesa Redonda participants, the goals of the second year were met with success. The Latino Youth Conference Committee delivered an excellent regional conference that drew youth from four surrounding counties. Guest speakers included:
- Victor Vasquez, Washington State Employment Security
- Antonio Sanchez, PhD, Office of the Lt. Governor
- Hugo Flores, The Evergreen State College
- Juan Fiat, Synertek
- Bernardino Salazar, TCTV
- David Torres, Contract Engineer
- Emilio Vela, Division of Alcohol & Substance Abuse
- Griselda Perretz-Rosales, Cielo
- Anita Estupiñan-Neal, Neal and Neal
- Carmen Cody, DSHS Foster Care Recruitment
- Isabel Perez de Torres, Upward Bound
- Alex Narvaez, University of Washington
- Harvey Perez, Division of Alcohol & Substance Abuse
- Rebecca Farr, Planned Parenthood
- Patricia Vazques, The Evergreen State College
- Gabriela Lyse, Safeplace
- Anita Estupiñan-Neal
- Eunice Santiago, Providence Sound Home Care Maternity Support
- Lilia Gomez, Seamar
- Paulina Alanis
Activities involved murals, poetry, and dance all which were linked to the importance of staying in school and pursuing higher education. Awareness around political involvement, and the political process was raised through guest speakers from State agencies, and members individually began volunteering to sit on boards. La Mesa Redonda continues to progress and has been able to attain cohesiveness among participants. It has gained increased visibility in the community and provides a venue for networking as well as for accessing resource information.
La Mesa Redonda is creating a chain reaction of individuals helping each other. Join us.