JOHNNY FLORES JR. / Coachella Uninc
Coachella — Mi Familia Vota, a national nonprofit dedicated to mobilizing the Latino community, is opening a Coachella office this summer, and local youth are already playing an instrumental role in welcoming the organization to the valley.
“We have a team made up of local youth from high schools and local colleges. We didn’t even have to post positions publically; we have families from Coachella involved,” Arnulfo De La Cruz, the California director for Mi Familia Vota, said. “It’s important that people from the community talk to people from their own community. That’s part of our vision.”
Though their Coachella office is not fully functioning, De La Cruz said Mi Familia Vota is already planning to host a citizen workshop in August for residents of the Coachella Valley. The organization is also hosting a voter registration workshop in Riverside on July 26, 2014. The workshop is meant to assist applicants with filling out an application for naturalization, also known as the N400 form. This form allows permanent legal residents to become U.S. citizens, which in turn will grant them the ability to vote.
“Voting is how we make our voice heard regarding issues important to us such as school loans, affordable health care, quality and affordable schooling, just immigration laws and a brighter future,” Neftali Galarza, a Mi Familia Vota volunteer, said.
Galarza, a third year political science major at the University of California Riverside, is one of many youths who volunteer with Mi Familia Vota. Galarza said youth involvement in nonprofits, like Mi Familia Vota, is important because the youth are able to represent and to contribute to their communities. Though Mi Familia Vota specializes in working with youth to mobilize their community, the organization also partners with local organizations.
“We envision a future in which the electorate is energized and empowered and reflective of the growing diversity in the United States,” Galarza said. “We work with community based, educational, religious, labor and other organizations that seek to build civically cognizant and active neighborhoods.”
With the November elections quickly approaching, voting could not be any more important, according to Galarza.
“[Voting is] extremely important. We will be voting for the next governor, congress, state executives, city councils and school boards,” he said.
Mi Familia Vota will be working closely with several Coachella Valley community partners to ensure the increased participation of Latinos in the fall election, according to De La Cruz.
“This election, though not a presidential election, has a huge impact on the families in the Coachella Valley,” he said. “We are going to need as many people as possible to participate leading into the November election.”
Reporting contributed by Amber Amaya