Enlaces Celebrates Its Fourth Anniversary by isabelle mercado
“Enlaces’ goal is to empower, educate and engage Alaska’s Latino community through education, health, culture, and participation in civic activities,” said this year’s board president, Joan Ryan.
The non-profit organization that celebrated its fourth anniversary in September, has acted since its inception as a catalyst to achieve an equitable presence and voice with the goal of generating community. Enlaces strives to achieve a better quality of life for the more than 50,000 Hispanics who currently live in Alaska.
Instituted from four axes, providing information on immigration, education, social services, and community announcements, Enlaces works to promote social justice and equity for Latinos and Hispanics in the North, all through collaborating with different communities.
According to Joan Ryan, the importance of any president in an institution is to keep the agency functioning effectively and with clear and tangible goals. “The idea is to be able to grow in a sustainable way and always focused on our mission.” Ryan is also known for her advocacy for women’s rights, especially reproductive rights. She is currently a member of the Anchorage Women’s Commission and the National Women’s Organization Working Group.
Among the services that Enlaces offers is linking the immigrant community with resources, such as the Immigration Justice Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Alaska Educational Resource Center, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, among others. Likewise, support is offered to victims of domestic and sexual violence, helping guide those who have suffered this crime to obtain resources and services from shelter, counseling, to legal and psychological assistance. Through Enlaces is also possible to contact the Consulates of different Latin American countries.
Joan Ryan shares the many activities they have carried out in Enlaces, “in the early years, we coordinated naturalization clinics. Now we are doing health fairs with free or very low-cost exams. In addition, we provide small scholarships for Latino students at Alaskan universities and support them in navigating civic activities in the state. Last year due to the pandemic of Covid-19, we did online education workshops on different topics, and published our directory, Redes Latinas, with information about available social resources for the community.”
The board of directors is made up of multifaceted people of different nationalities, beliefs, and cultures, but with the same goal, all betting on the right of Hispanics to have truthful information and empowering them on issues of relevance. Ryan talks about future plans for the organization, “we are growing, and our plan is to be able to have an organization with different programs where we can hire people full-time and expand our services to more communities in the state.”