Hard work and perseverance have brought good things to Elvia Flores and her classmates.
Like earning a basic education, finding the resources to succeed in the community and tackling the language barrier.
For 40 Hispanic-American adults, the journey culminated in an official recognition of their academic achievements.
In a program first, Centro Rendu of St. Vincent de Paul celebrated the class of 2015 in a ceremony at Kent Memorial Park on Dec. 19. Students, 21 and older, received graduation certificates – either for fulfilling a primary, secondary, literacy education or other course work – as recognized by the Consulate of Mexico in partnership with the U.S. government. Program tutors and volunteers also were honored at the ceremony.
“Whew … a lot of work,” Flores said of earning her certificates while receiving congratulations from family and friends. “I am happy to (finish) this.”
Centro Rendu, a community-based and Latino-led program managed by St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) of Seattle, King County, provides important services to and a way to communicate with the Hispanic community, including the Kent-Covington area. Centro Rendu’s first community social service center – a hub for many educational opportunities – shares the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, at 310 Central Ave., Kent.
Centro Rendu provides culturally and linguistically appropriate case management, literacy education, and advocacy designed to increase stability, parent engagement, self-empowerment and civic involvement for Latino families. Last year in Kent, Centro Rendu served 529 individuals with direct services and provided more than 4,500 referrals out into the community.
According to Mirya Munõz-Roach, director of Hispanic Outreach for SVdP of Seattle, King County, graduating is a significant accomplishment. Many Centro Rendu students came from dire poverty, attended classes after work hours, began learning how to read and made various personal sacrifices to be able to complete the course work and earn a certificate.
Munõz-Roach observed that Centro Rendu students have gradually developed the confidence to take on more challenging educational opportunities and have become more engaged in their communities. These investments all started with a commitment to attend literacy classes on a regular basis.
“We feel we are a bridge … We are a place of trust,” Munõz-Roach said. “We have great response and events in the community. We play a role in that engagement. We are very grassroots, and we’re all about education – for (individuals) and their families.”
Mayor Suzette Cooke applauded the effort and welcomed the graduates to play a bigger part in the city they live.
“You are Kent. You are the people who make up this city, and the value that you bring to our community is even greater,” she told the graduates. Cooke has been involved in the development of the Centro Rendu program for several years.
Such a relationship with the city is important to expand the program’s work, Munõz-Roach said.
“Mayor Cooke has been very supportive,” she said.
Ned Delmore, executive director for SVdP of Seattle, King County, said the program works behind strong leadership from many people, notably Munõz-Roach.
“The reason this is special is because of her strength and dynamic energy,” Delmore said. “You need strong people leading this (program) … and she’s just been relentless.”
To learn more, visit http://svdpseattle.org/.