Changes ahead for Rochester agencies that serve Hispanics - Catholic Courier

Changes ahead for Rochester agencies that serve Hispanics

ROCHESTER — During the second-annual Latino summit, which took place at the Rochester Convention Center Oct. 17, a representative of the Puerto Rican Youth Development and Resource Center announced an upcoming partnership with Ibero-American Action League.

“We are engaged to be married,” PRYD Executive Director Mildred V√°zquez remarked during the summit’s luncheon.

As discussions continue about the changeover, PRYD recently consolidated its operations at 30 Hart St. and closed its office at 997 N. Clinton Ave., V√°zquez said in an interview Oct. 21. Once the task force comprising staff and board members from both agencies makes its final decision on the Ibero-PRYD partnership, V√°zquez said she will step down.

“It was the logical thing,” she said. “Ibero has a great president. It doesn’t need a second one. The structure of the PRYD brand and mission remain strong. Our missions are closely tied. While our focus may be different, that’s OK.”

During the Latino summit luncheon, V√°zquez acknowledged that some may argue the community needs two separate agencies, but said the time has come to better serve youths without having to worry about the day-to-day machinations of running a not-for-profit organization, such as meeting payroll and paying rent.

“It is a struggle,” she said. “I spend too much time trying to make ends meet. That is not what I signed up for … which is youth empowerment.”

With Ibero as its parent agency, PRYD can focus on its core mission to improve Latinos’ high-school graduation rates and create the leaders of tomorrow, V√°zquez said.

How to improve the academic performance of Latino students and turn around the graduation rate and high drop-out rates was a constant theme during the Latino summit’s workshops, whether the topic was immigration, health or economic development.

Guest speaker Celia Gonz√°lez, the state’s deputy comptroller for diversity planning and equity management, said she thinks Latino students are lost long before they reach high school, more likely around the fifth or sixth grades.

“That directly impacts on our commitment to develop economic opportunities,” she said.

Gonz√°lez said she knows some students are not going to be interested in attending college, and said society also depends on the work of trades people, including plumbers, welders and electricians.

“Be compassionate,” she added. “Don’t think they’re all failures because they didn’t go to college. Some will become entrepreneurs. … But let’s graduate some more people from high school.”

The summit, which attracted about 250 people representing agencies from throughout upstate New York, concluded with a dinner to celebrate Ibero’s 40th anniversary. During the celebration, Bishop Matthew H. Clark led the invocation, and Ibero officials acknowledged founders of the agency in attendance. Among them were Pedro Pedraza, Roger Baglin, Domingo Mart√≠nez and Father Laurence Tracy.

Among the dinner speakers was Julio V√°zquez, former Ibero president and currently the City of Rochester’s commissioner of community development, who also challenged the Latino community to change the course for its youths.

“We’ve come a long way and celebrate we must … but we still have a long way to go, I’m afraid,” he said. “We’ve become too complacent and … we must demand for ourselves better results.”

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