Literacy Center faces uncertainty - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Literacy Center faces uncertainty

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2019 9:00 pm

The Brownsville Literacy Center may temporarily close on Aug. 15 if they don’t receive funds to continue helping the community, but this didn’t stop the nonprofit from holding a Back to School event Thursday for local children.

More than 100 children attended the Brownsville Literacy Center’s Back to School Health and Community Fair where they received free school supplies and information pertaining to health and wellness.

The BLC has been operating for more than 30 years and provides assistance with English and chess classes, summer camps for children and many other services.

“We try to create an environment where people feel at home, where they feel accepted. There’s no shame here, no sense of embarrassment because they can’t speak a language. We have to continue to be that resource for all people,” Lilia H. Hernandez, a board member at the Brownsville Literacy Center, said. “For us, not to have a center like this would be a complete injustice for those families that we are in the beginning a voice for them until they have a voice of their own.”

Hernandez said the center evolved from being originally funded as a community resource for new Brownsville residents to attend and learn English, to now being a staple for the community where families start their journey for education.

“It evolved to continue to be a resource to the community, a resource that you can come here and not only learn a second language but you can bring your children and they will learn about health awareness, health prevention, they will learn the importance of making healthy decisions and parents learn how to make informed decisions,” she said. “We empower families here; they have a voice in the community.”

The center runs on grants and donations by local businesses, private donors and organizations that believe in the Literacy Center’s mission.

“We are wanting to downsize the building, we are in the process of looking for someone who may be charitable and may want to join forces with us. We are open with joining forces with perhaps another nonprofit, perhaps another wellness resource in the community, perhaps a community clinic; we are looking at all options right now,” Hernandez said. “If nothing comes up by August 15, it may mean temporarily restructuring things in the fall. That is still something we are trying to avoid because it is never good for a nonprofit to have a period where you are shutting down.”

Hernandez said board members are working “tirelessly” knocking on doors to avoid temporarily shutting down. They have been talking with Mayor Trey Mendez III to try to find a place that may be cheaper for them.

“The Brownsville Literacy Center is an organization that I’ve always personally contributed to and helped with because the issue of literacy in Brownsville is still an issue and it affects a lot of people,” Mendez said. “People take it for granted now, but there are still a lot of people in our community that can’t read or can’t read in (English), or even lack financial literacy. For me, they’ve done important work for a long time and I hope they get enough support to keep going.”

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com

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