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The value of a dedicated support system can never be underestimated. This week, we learn how one Promise Partner has served as an advocate for generations of Kalamazoo citizens.
Established in 1981, El Concilio was created to connect and serve the Latino community of greater Kalamazoo.
“We direct our members to organizations that have the resources they need,” said Adrian Vazquez, El Concilio’s Executive Director. “Whether it is health or education related, police support and more, we help our members with anything they need.”
When Vazquez says “anything”, he is not being hyperbolic. From programs on social, emotional, and mental health, to a bilingual staff, El Concilio goes the extra mile to ensure that every member feels supported regardless of their needs.
As a nonprofit, El Concilio receives grants, partnerships, and other resources to cover its costs. These funds go toward supporting digital literacy, tutoring, safety, and education. Having previously been a beneficiary of the organization’s programming when he and his family moved to Kalamazoo from Mexico, Vazquez is especially proud of how El Concilio works to better serve the people who were once in his position.
“A lot of the new programs that we have in place prepare future generations by creating a strong support system that allows them to be productive,” he explained.
These support systems are further bolstered by El Concilio’s partnership with The Kalamazoo Promise. Vazquez sees this collaboration as a way to fill in some of the gaps that students face when they graduate from high school.
“Students sometimes struggle in school because English isn’t their first language,” he explained, “They graduate and get that diploma, but they often face difficulties in college because they don’t have that connection with their parents and the support systems that they used to have in high school.”
In order to rectify this issue, the two organizations work in tandem to make sure that students, and their families, have the information they need before entering college.
“We remind families of all the educational options that The Promise provides,” Vazquez stated. “Students don’t always have to pursue a four-year degree if they have interests that could be met by either a two-year degree or trade school.”
When asked what he appreciated about Kalamazoo, Vazquez recognized the positive impact that the community has had on El Concilio’s development.
“Finding so many people open and willing to work with you feels great,” he shared. “There are so many good people willing to open their arms and give you the support you need.”
As far as long-term goals are concerned, El Concilio aims to assist its members in gaining economic sustainability, attaining self-sufficiency, and raising healthy families. Interested in helping them reach these goals? Visit their donation page and show your support.