The Spanish Community of Wallingford (SCOW), a.k.a. Comunidad Hispana de Wallingford, Inc., was founded in 1972 by a small group of Latinos in Wallingford, Connecticut, who experienced difficulties finding translators, interpreters, employment, and medical assistance within the community. The founders envisioned the organization to be the leading agency to help develop and involve the Hispanic community. To this day, it has been successful in implementing its mission, “to respond to the needs of the Latino Community by assisting them to succeed in U.S. society, and to enable Latinos to maintain and share their rich varied cultures with the broader community.”
Last year, our agency and staff received recognition and accreditation by the US Department of Justice to provide
assistance in certain types of legal immigration procedures to eligible candidates. This service is only available to immigrants who cannot afford to retain attorneys. The motivation behind this process is that oftentimes unscrupulous individuals take advantage of vulnerable immigrants and provide misleading advice that leave them vulnerable or with fake expectations of achieving a status for which they unfortunately, may not qualify.
The transition of the Mariachi Academy of Connecticut to the hands of the Mariachi Mexico Antiguo has been completed and it will no longer be a program of the Spanish Community of Wallingford. We are happy to see the program grow and expand to other communities. Our Music Director, Evangeline Mendoza will remain at SCOW in the same capacity and our music program is now known as SCOW School of Music. The School includes lessons in classical music, piano and a drum circle.
Our board of directors and staff recently completed our FY2016-2019 strategic plan with the assistance of a capacity building consultant. The process included a community assessments that included feedback from community leaders, funders, and clients of our agency. The goals of the strategic plan include: 1) the improvement of our office operations to make our work more efficient, 2) the implementation of new marketing strategies to better promote our programs and services within our community and to attract new donors, 3) the expansion of our fund development initiatives, 4) the improvement of the evaluative process for our programs and services.
Because you are reading this, I must first thank you for your interest in our agency. There are many worthy organizations to which you can donate, and of course I want to share my passion for our work in order to inspire you to invest in the Latino community through supporting SCOW.
Why Latinos and why now? Well, Latinos are but the latest wave of immigrants coming to America. Like our predecessors, we came because the United States is still the brightest beacon of hope in the entire world. We have brought with us a tremendous work ethic, strong family and religious values and the same drive to succeed on our own merit as have so many others. We also bring fascinating, vibrant and exciting cultures – dozens of them, actually – to add to the amazing cultural tapestry that is America.
Our agency exists to help Latinos to overcome the obstacles common to all immigrants: learning a new language, navigating a new, very complex society, reaching out for acceptance in our new home and finding work to support ourselves and our families.
Latino men, women and children are an incredibly powerful human resource for the United States. SCOW’s mission is to empower each one who seeks our assistance to reach their full potential as quickly as possible and thus make their full contribution to their new homeland.
Please join me in this most fulfilling and joyful adventure.
I want to address our successes and challenges but first I would like to begin with why, I, a middle class Caucasian, has found participation in SCOW to be the most rewarding public service endeavor that I have ever experienced.
My participation in, and devotion to SCOW derives from one word: People. This is an organization completely focused on helping people. It isn’t about promoting a political cause. It’s not about an element of community life. It’s not about fighting a dreaded disease. While all of these are worthy of a volunteer’s time, I know that every minute that I donate to SCOW will go to helping deserving and motivated individuals improve their lives.
The people I am talking about are fascinating, optimistic, hard-working, family-oriented, faith-centered and determined individuals. Latinos bring with them all these attributes as well as a cultural mix full of energy and joy. Given just a little bit of assistance from agencies like SCOW, these wonderful people will succeed for their families and will enrich our entire country.
One other people aspect that makes participation in SCOW so rewarding: the agency staff and our Board. Our organization’s staff is, of course, Latino. Better said, Latina, as the entire staff is comprised of vivacious, energetic, caring, focused women whose heritage originates from all over Latin America. It took tremendous courage for them to emigrate here, and to see how hard they work to help others in the same situation is inspiring.
So what are our challenges? The first, of course, is money; money to fund the programs that will help people help themselves. The second: politics. The plight of undocumented immigrants is one of America’s hot button issues. Stereotyping millions of Latinos as merely lawbreakers does a terrible disservice to them and is destructive to both the American economy and culture. And it sometimes makes our job more difficult than it should be. The population we serve is composed of individual human beings just trying to make their way in the world and attitudes towards them change instantly upon meeting our clients. Getting the general public to this point, though, is sometimes an all-too slow process.
Our successes as an organization mirror our challenges. In the past five years, we have been successful in raising money to create and run our educational programs. Our agency has also been successful at creating opportunities for the greater community to get to know the Hispanic community through cultural events and by increased Latino participation in community events. The more interactions that we in the greater society have with our Latino neighbors, the more that we can appreciate just how special they are.
If you are still reading this, I must thank you. Every word I have written comes from my heart, and I hope I have explained why SCOW has so touched it. I am extremely proud of the United States of America for being the place on the planet that people come to pursue freedom and opportunity. And I am equally proud of being part of making that happen for so many good people who come from all over Latin America and rely on SCOW.
Of the 32 youth participating, 100% of the students seeking volunteer opportunities participated in a project where they learned useful life skills, 90% of the students participating in the program demonstrated to have a better understanding about the job search process, are able to submit an application and are prepare for an interview, 90% of the students participating in the program reported to have an increased self worth. 80% of the students participating in the program reported to have higher control over things that happen to them, 80% of the students participating in the program reported to have an increase in positive connections with adults and 90% of the students reported an increased awareness in the importance of a good education.
100 % of students were involved in math and science learning activities during the program.
2. 100% demonstrated an increased engagement in participation and improved attitude toward learning.
3. 100 % of students learned new scientific terms and vocabulary.
4. 85% demonstrated an improvement in their social skills and formed new friendships through participation of group projects.
SCOW Music School provides training in music to 25 children aged 7 to 17. They receive basic music instruction and theory by singing songs in Spanish and learning to play classic musical instruments. The children choose one of six instruments to study: guitar, violin, trumpet, vihuela, guitarrón, or piano.
Maria Campos-Harlow was welcomed into the Spanish Community of Wallingford first as a Board member, then Board Chair and finally as Executive Director as of the fall of 2010. She has since revitalized the agency in many ways by: developing multiple educational, cultural and health programs for all segments of the Latino community; building alliances with many sectors of the Wallingford social service and municipal government community; and creating programs and activities that have showcased the vibrant Latino cultures. Maria also represents SCOW and her community by serving on many boards and committees. The presence of the Mariachi Academy of Connecticut, the Adelante America programs for youths 13-18 years old and the hosting of the STEM Academy at SCOW are examples of her many accomplishments in rebuilding the organization.
Maria was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, where she received her B.A. in Political Science from Universidad de los Andes. She moved to the United States in June, 2001. She has since received a Professional Certificate in Court Interpreting from New York University, as well as a Certificate in Non-Profit Business Excellence for Catholic Leaders at the University of Notre Dame.
Maria has been recognized with numerous awards for her commitment to creating opportunities to improve the lives of Latinos in the Greater Wallingford area including, in 2014, Midstate Chamber of Commerce’s Excellence in Education Award; in 2015, Girls Inc.’s Smart, Strong and Bold Award, Midstate Chamber of Commerce – Hola Committee’s Shining Star and Liberty Bank’s Willard M. McRae Community Diversity Award.
Comments from Executive Director Maria Harlow:
Our most exciting opportunity is the development of our second three-year strategic plan. So much growth has occurred since we wrote our last one, and the process of drawing up a new one will engage everyone in the work of SCOW, strengthen our agency and help us define our direction. Despite the enormity of this project, everyone is looking forward to the setting of new goals and the sharpening of our focus that this exercise will bring.
As for challenges, there are three worthy of note, but first let me start off by saying that SCOW is blessed by having a talented, devoted and diverse Board of Directors whose work is totally focused on what is best for our agency and our community. I receive tremendous support, valuable guidance and true friendship from this group of special individuals.
The first challenge is Board composition. Because we are an organization whose mission is to support the Latino community, it is important that the membership of our Board reflect that fact. However, it is not always easy to find members of the Hispanic community that are ready to devote the energy and time required of an effective Board member. Because of the present demographics of the Latino community, earning a living and raising a family often consumes all of their time.
The second challenge is one familiar to many nonprofit Boards: getting Board members focused on fundraising. Despite their enthusiasm for our mission, it is often difficult for members to step outside their comfort zone, roll up their sleeves and do the often-awkward work of fund development. Add to that the fact that our primary service area is Wallingford, a middle-class town of less than fifty thousand. Our Board members’ networks are therefore often intertwined, limiting the number of prospects from whom to solicit support.
The third challenge – another familiar one to many nonprofits we talk with as well - is attendance at Board meetings and the staffing of officer positions. Please refer to the first challenge discussed above for part of the explanation. The other is that Board members of nonprofits tend to be active community members in multiple organizations. Our Board members certainly fit into that category. We are attempting various strategies to shorten meetings and moving meeting dates to accommodate these busy people.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
FThis profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
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