SER National Affiliate: Casa San Jose

SER National Affiliate: Casa San Jose

In Pittsburgh, a city steeped in the history of America’s industrial boom and change, a new collective of voices is being heard. The sound is different, reflecting a tapestry of fresh cultural experiences, and its source is Casa San Jose. There, Latino families and individuals are coming together and creating an opportunity to infuse Pittsburg with a new vitality for the future.

Established in 2013 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, Casa San Jose was born out of a deep-seated commitment to uplift and empower the region’s burgeoning Latino population. The richly faceted social services agency embodies the resilience and empowerment that define the organization’s mission.

Monica Ruiz, Executive Director of Casa San Jose in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, readily acknowledges the challenges and growth of the Latino community. She states, “I think that for us here in Pittsburgh, PA, Latinos are less than 2% of the population, but we have grown more than 80% in the last ten years. Before, Latinos came for work and then left to return to their homes, returning seasonally. But then, they began to settle here and stayed to raise their families.”

As the city witnessed an influx of newcomers, Casa San Jose emerged as a lifeline, filling in the gaps for services that the community desperately needed but were unavailable. Monica’s vision extended beyond immediate aid; she aimed to create bridges within institutions and processes that have seen little change in decades.

Monica laments, recounting the countless instances where community members were stranded because of a lack of linguistic support in crucial institutions. “Language access remains a significant barrier,” Ruiz states. “Language access must be our greatest barrier at present. You go into a city or county office, and they have nothing in Spanish for residents. Even healthcare services lack language and cultural accessibility. For example, we only have two Spanish-speaking pediatricians,” she says.

The organization’s staff reflects the community they serve. Ruiz notes, “We have a staff of 27, and out of these individuals, maybe six or seven were born here in the United States. Everyone else is from somewhere else or has received services from us. Their lived experience is invaluable as they now help others. We have a great mix of people,” Monica beams, highlighting their shared experiences as immigrants and their dedication to the cause.

“Casa San Jose fills gaps in services for the community,” Ruiz emphasizes. “However, we want people to acquire the skills and knowledge to learn how to navigate the services themselves in this city. This is a very complex process, but we’re building resiliency within folks as they experience success,” she adds.

Casa San Jose is a resource hub for Latino immigrants seeking assistance and guidance from weekly clinics and food pantries to Know Your Rights sessions and summer camps. Its comprehensive programs encompass social services, emergency aid, community advocacy, English language classes, mental health support, housing assistance, and specialized programs for children with autism.

As importantly, Casa San Jose champions amplifying inclusion at every level within the larger community, ensuring that the voices of those they serve are heard and elevated. “Representation is essential,” emphasizes Monica. Particularly important is pushing for inclusivity in decision-making processes in programs and services that impact the Latino population. Ruiz explains, “Representation means having people with a voice and viewpoint authentic to the issue or need we are addressing in our city.“

One central area of focus of Casa San Jose is working with local youths through several of the organization’s programs: Jóvenes Con Propósito fosters a vibrant community of Latino youth, championing immigrant rights and igniting social change. With a firm belief in the current leadership of today’s youth, the program meets weekly during the academic year, nurturing empowerment and activism.

Puentes Hacia el Futuro, tailored for ages 6-14, cultivates cultural identity and leadership skills through trust-building activities, discussions, and educational pursuits, preparing youth for a dynamic future blending Latino and American cultures.

Campamento Sonrisa offers an enriching summer experience for youths aged 7-14, blending education, outdoor adventures, and sports. Participants enjoy nutritious meals throughout the structured camp, including breakfast, lunch, and snacks. The elementary session runs from June to July, while the middle school session spans from mid-July to August, providing an inclusive opportunity for all applicants at no cost.

Casa San Jose serves multi-generational families in tangible, practical ways every day. For its stakeholders, it is both about the here and now and the future of the Latino comunidad. “We are learning from other larger cities with decades of experience working within significantly bigger Latino populations,” says Ruiz. “At the same time, I hope that we can offer smaller communities near and around us an example of how to build resilience and help our people not just survive but thrive for years to come,” she adds.

SER National Observes Cinco de Mayo 2024, Celebrating Hispanics’ Exponential Growth and Positive Impact on America’s Economy

SER National Observes Cinco de Mayo 2024, Celebrating Hispanics’ Exponential Growth and Positive Impact on America’s Economy

As the nation commemorates the historic Battle of Puebla on Cinco de Mayo, SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. (SER National) reflects on the strength of the Hispanic community and its significant contributions to the workforce and economy of the United States. This year’s celebration marks not only a pivotal moment in Mexican history but also serves as a reminder of the increasing presence and labor power that characterize Hispanic and Latino American workers.

“Latinos in the United States are poised to meet our country’s workforce needs now and in the future as the fastest growing and largest demographic of younger men and women,” says Ignacio Salazar, President & CEO. “Our nation’s educational pipeline, training, and skills development capacity is being challenged to keep pace with this historical growth. This is why the SER Network of Affiliates works daily in anticipation of this continued exponential demand. Together, we can ensure that the sheer number of Latinos in labor translates into economic advancement and opportunities for generations to come,” adds Salazar.

Latinos in the United States constitute a vital workforce component, representing approximately 20% of the population and workforce. With a median age of 38.5 years on the job, Hispanic workers are younger than their non-Hispanic counterparts, making significant contributions to the labor force.

“We continue to meet the workforce needs of our country in many areas, including the building trades, service industries, and manufacturing,” states Salazar. “However, we are also emerging as a vital force in technological areas, including software sciences, the latest healthcare jobs, and AI-driven sectors. SER National is aligning vital stakeholders across the United States and Puerto Rico because we see the challenges and opportunities and are committed to being ready for both,” adds Salazar.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2040, more than one in four Americans will be Hispanic, highlighting the growing influence of this community. According to the U.S. Latino GDP Report, if Latinos living in the United States were an independent country, their GDP would rank fifth in the world at $3.2 trillion, underscoring their significant economic impact.

Despite their contributions, disparities in pay and job opportunities persist for Hispanic and Latino workers. Initiatives aimed at providing better outcomes, including education and retraining programs that prepare and transition workers to new high-wage, high-demand employment, are crucial to addressing these disparities and ensuring sustainable incomes for Latino families.

“As a nation, we are stronger in unity of purpose and in the shared vision that our country’s history is inextricably linked to the integration of immigrants into the fabric of America,” emphasized Salazar. “Together, we can ensure that the sheer number of Latinos in labor translates into economic advancement and opportunities for future generations.”

As SER National observes Cinco de Mayo 2024, it reaffirms its commitment to empowering Hispanic and Latino communities through education, training, and economic development initiatives. By breaking down barriers to workforce success, we pave the way for a more inclusive and prosperous future.

SER National Proudly Celebrates International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2024

SER National Proudly Celebrates International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2024

SER National joins the global community in celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s Month 2024, embracing this year’s theme of Inspire Inclusion. As an organization dedicated to service, employment, and redevelopment, we recognize the pivotal role of women in shaping our society and economy. Guided by our mission to empower individuals and communities, we proudly honor the invaluable contributions of women across the nation.

“On behalf of SER National and the SER Network of Affiliates, we are moved by this year’s compelling theme of inspiring inclusiveness in our world,” says Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO. “Women are the backbone of our vast Familia de SER’s agencies, programs, and initiatives. Every day, they help lead, innovate, and motivate all of us to excellence. Nearly half our nation’s workforce, or 75 million, are women, and they own and operate more than 10 million businesses, accounting for almost $1.5 trillion in annual receipts. Yet, women account for only 1-in-4 c-suite positions and 1-in-16 for women of color. So yes, we can and must be more inclusive to tap into the limitless talent women bring,” adds Salazar.

The International Women’s Day 2024 campaign theme, Inspire Inclusion, resonates deeply with our commitment to diversity and empowerment. We foster a better world when we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion. By championing inclusion, we break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected.

At SER National, we believe that education and awareness are essential in fostering inclusion and empowering women in our country’s workforce training, social support programs, and diverse work sites. We create opportunities for women to thrive through mentorship, educational workshops, and specialized development programs. We empower women to overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential by providing guidance and resources.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s Month 2024, let us collectively commit to inspiring inclusion in all aspects of our lives. Together, we can forge a more inclusive world where women are valued, respected, and empowered to reach their highest aspirations.

“Inspiring inclusiveness is to aspire to greatness,” says Salazar. “A recent survey by Glassdoor found that 75% of applicants want to be part of an organization that champions inclusiveness, and 62% of people in the workforce see inclusiveness as a major driver of successful organizations. So may we inspire inclusiveness through our actions and uplift women’s vital contributions in our work and lives,” says Salazar.

SER National Observes Presidents Day as a Celebration of Leadership

SER National Observes Presidents Day as a Celebration of Leadership

As the nation commemorates Presidents Day on the third Monday of February, SER National joins the celebration, recognizing it as a tribute to our highest elected leaders’ leadership, sacrifice, and service. This federal holiday, officially named Washington’s Birthday, holds a special place in our hearts as it pays homage to the first President of the United States, George Washington, and all who have kept the esteemed office.

Presidents Day, often regarded as a day to honor the nation’s chief executives, reminds us of the courage and commitment demonstrated by our leaders. Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO of SER National, reflects on the significance of this day, stating, “SER National celebrates the meaning of Presidents Day as a moment when we pay tribute to the courage of our nation’s highest elected leaders. Moreover, we are reminded of the true meaning of this role, which is to exemplify leadership through service and sacrifice for the greater good of others. This quality extends to each of us where we work and find our purpose daily.”

Governments, schools, museums, and historical sites throughout the United States observe Presidents Day with various events and activities. Parades, educational programs, historical reenactments, and exhibitions foster a connection between residents and the rich heritage of our country. In Washington, D.C., a wreath-laying ceremony at the Washington Monument adds a poignant touch to the day’s historical significance.

George Washington’s legacy, marked by his universal respect and selfless act of relinquishing power after two terms, set a precedent for his successors. His leadership during the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and his choice to return to private life at Mount Vernon underscored the principles of service and sacrifice.

Abraham Lincoln, born on February 12, 1809, faced and navigated the nation through a profound constitutional, military, and moral crisis during the American Civil War. His Emancipation Proclamation played a pivotal role in transforming the war’s aims from a conflict over states’ rights to a battle for the destruction of slavery. Lincoln’s unwavering commitment to ending slavery culminated in the support for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in December 1865. His tragic assassination on April 9, 1865, marked the end of a transformative era in American history.

“SER National believes strongly in the traits required for effective leadership in the workplace,” says Salazar. “Also, those who are asked to undertake the task of leadership throughout the SER Network of Affiliates display several important traits in service to their organization or program. This includes the ability to direct with compassion and humility, share a vision, and inspire those entrusted to them to accomplish their best with dignity and respect. A successful leader requires creating motivation, which comes when a person communicates effectively and fosters a collaborative environment. May this Presidents Day remind us that the strength of truly effective leaders comes from empowering those around them and providing an example that others look up to and wish to support wholeheartedly. As we celebrate Presidents Day, let us reflect on the enduring principles of leadership, service, and sacrifice that have shaped our nation’s history and continue to inspire us today,” he concludes.

SER National Celebrates the Work of Hands and Hearts Transforming Our World

SER National Celebrates the Work of Hands and Hearts Transforming Our World

SER National proudly joins the nation in celebrating Black History Month. This month-long observance is a testament to the creative and artistic contributions made by African Americans that enrich the cultural fabric of our nation.

Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO of SER National, expressed his appreciation for the profound impact of African Americans on the United States, stating, “SER National and the SER Network of Affiliates proudly join in the month-long acknowledgment and appreciation for the creative and artistic contributions made to our nation by African Americans.” Salazar continued, “In every aspect of our society and every walk of life, our experience as a country savors foods, music, and pop culture inspired by the Black experience. Indeed, our nation is more beautiful because of the God-given talent, love, and labor expressed for centuries through the works of Blacks in the United States.”

From Harlem to Hollywood, Black artists have played a pivotal role in shaping the cultural landscape. Their creative expressions harmonize with the beats of progress, uplifting the race, speaking truth to power, and inspiring a nation. As we pay homage to Black History Month, let us celebrate the achievements of the past and acknowledge the work that lies ahead.

Salazar emphasized the diversity reflected within SER affiliates, stating, “SER affiliates reflect this same grace from their richly diverse leadership and staffs that warmly welcome all who walk through our doors daily irrespective of race, more than one million people annually.”

As we delve into the significance of Black History Month, it is essential to recognize its historical roots. Originating in the 1920s, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) founded a national Negro History Week. This week was strategically placed in the second week of February, aligning with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Over time, the celebration evolved, and by the late 60s, it transitioned into Black History Month. In 1976, President Ford officially designated February as Black History Month, solidifying a tradition that endures to this day.

Beyond the festivities, Black History Month serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges related to race-related harassment and discrimination. Businesses celebrating Black History Month present a unique opportunity to initiate conversations about race, fostering awareness for Black and minority voices. SER National recognizes the importance of addressing these issues in society and the workplace.

Salazar concluded with a poignant call to action: “The greatest tribute we can pay to the many Black artists and professionals in America is to emulate their example through our daily works in our jobs, careers, and dealings with each other. In this way, our work transcends what we do as more than tasks and activities. Indeed, Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect and appreciate our greater purpose each day. Working together, our greatest collective art is the very strength of our labor diversity. May we then celebrate the shared benefits when we apply our skills and knowledge through the use of our minds and bodies in service to others for the betterment of our world. Bravo, Black History Month!”