La Semilla Helps North Carolina’s Latino Community Access Food During COVID Pandemic

RALEIGH, North Carolina – At one point, Latinos accounted for 44% of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina while they made up about 10% of the state’s population.

The nonprofit La Semilla intervened to help the Latin American population of the region with the distribution of food and PPE during the pandemic and mobilized community health workers, or “promotoras”, to donate to community essential information on vaccinations and COVID-19 prevention.

The organization has also partnered with hospitals and nonprofit organizations to provide vaccination clinics.
“The heart of our work is food aid, social support … vaccine equity, educating our community members about the COVID-19 vaccine and encouraging community members to receive the vaccine. himself, “said Pastor Edgar Vergara Millán, executive director of Iglesia. La Semilla. La Semilla is a co-professional faith community of the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.

“Even for some community vaccination events or clinics, pop-up or mobile events, some people still couldn’t make it to one of them,” he said. “Therefore, we have changed our strategy as La Semilla to get vaccines into residential areas.”

Millán estimated that La Semilla served around 50,000 people by distributing food and helped some 20,000 people get vaccinated.

“There are so many things that hit Latinos, Latinas and Latinxes the hardest,” said Millán, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States in 2009 to attend the Duke Divinity School seminar.

“I think one of the main things is that members of our communities who do not have the documents to receive unemployment benefits or stimulus funds or other types of support were themselves in first line of essential work, “he said. “Therefore, they were more at risk, and they suffered because of it.”

Beatriz Meraz Alvarado works as a community health worker in La Semilla.

“I am so proud and I am so happy to help my community because these are difficult times with COVID,” Alvarado said. “And all communities, and especially my Latin American community, need a lot of information, good information about COVID vaccines.”

“I was a nurse in Mexico and I worked for 10 years in a trauma hospital, and I like working all the time with my community, close to my community,” he added.
Millán spoke about the origins of the name of the church and the association, which means “the seed” in Spanish.

“La Semilla, or ‘the seed’ – which takes its name from the language used by the gospel to describe the kingdom of heaven – is like a little seed that is planted and that grows disproportionately,” he said. he declares.

He said he was alone at a food distribution in April 2020 while waiting for some volunteers to arrive.

“At the time, there was so much food available, and there were no systems in place to get food to people,” he said. “I was frustrated and stressed. I remember praying, ‘God, it’s time for the seed to germinate and grow. We need help. We need some people.’ And those seeds that were planted sprouted and sprouted and sprouted. ”

From actors to activists, people share stories of celebrating their heritage, expressing their identity as Latino, Latinx or Hispanic, and representing and accepting their diverse cultures. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with “Our America: Todos Unidos” on the streaming apps of TV stations owned by ABC and Hulu.

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