Casa Latina supports Spanish-speaking immigrants in the federal way
Casa Latina is home to many federal-style Spanish-speaking immigrants.
Casa Latina is a non-profit organization that opened its federal-style office one year ago, but has been present since 1994 in Seattle. Their main clients are Spanish-speaking Latin American immigrants who need help connecting to jobs and other social services. They provide a variety of education, such as English lessons. In addition, it is part of a community organizing effort to support domestic workers.
“They helped me in many different ways,” said Griselda Orozco, who has been a client of Casa Latina for about 10 years. Orozco said Casa Latina helped her with English lessons, as well as finding work and connecting with other female assistants. But now, Orozco said, she’s giving support to women who are new to the area and need the same support she needed when she first found Casa Latina.
Orozco is from Mexico City, Mexico, and in 1999, she moved to the United States and landed at Federal Road. Orozco said she moved to the United States for the same reason many other Latinos have to live a better life.
“More than anything else (we moved) because of the economic situation. “We already had two daughters, and life was very difficult there,” Orozco said. “Economically, we’re better, but you’re on your own here. Here there is potential for more solvency, but the family is there. So it’s one or the other.”
Orozco first became involved with Casa Latina through her program “Mujeres sin Fronteras” or in English “Women Without Borders”. This program brings together women domestic workers to defend their dignity and working conditions. During the Women Without Borders meeting, Orozco said she and others discussed topics such as migration and their daily struggles. In part, she said, it was a support group where fellow Latina women could be right next to each other.
Orozco said when the COVID-19 pandemic started, she stopped involving herself with Casa Latina because everything was over Zoom. She said she does not use technology much and prefers to communicate with other women in person. But about six months ago, Orozco said, she heard about and participated in Federal Way’s new site. She is now in Casa Latina when she is not working so she can mentor other women. She said that Casa Latina is like family to her, and that she helps whatever she can.
“For example, if I know a way I can help them, I will tell them about it. If they want to go to the hospital, or food banks, or if they are looking for a place to live, if I know a place, I will give them the information,” she said. “.
Connecting people to action
The main focus is connecting people to work, and the business they focus on at Federal Way is home cleaning services,” Casa Latina South site manager Veronique Facinelli said at Federal Way. She said many of the people who come to the Casa Latina Federal Way office looking for work are women, but the opportunities are open to everyone.
Facinelli said Casa Latina is not an employment agency. Instead, it connects individuals with people looking to clean their homes. Hence, the workers and the employer build a working relationship, and many women start getting more cleaning jobs through the employer’s initial recommendations. She said it also serves as an information and resource center for immigrant families to support their transition to live in the United States
Southern Site Coordinator Yuliana Chaparro said that if someone comes to them and hasn’t cleaned the house before, to start with, Casa Latina has a class that teaches people how to clean and how to be environmentally friendly when they clean. She said they do what they need to to support these people who are often going through a new experience.
“We support our members in every way we can. Even if they don’t have experience in this kind of work, they can contact us at any time,” Chaparro said. “One time, I was on a video call with a lady because she didn’t know how to clean the stove. . She said: How do I do that? I asked her to put the video on, and we were having a video call, and I told her, “You do it this way and this way,” so they feel supported that way, and that Casa Latina is with them in the process.
Casa Latina’s main focus is connecting people to job and educational opportunities.
Another major area of her interest is community organizing, said Jessica Salvador, co-executive director of people and organization at Casa Latina. One example of their community organizing is when they helped pass the Domestic Workers Rights Act in Seattle. They have partnered with Fair Work Center/Working WA, Harry Bridges Labor Center/UW, Legal Voice, Nanny Collective, NDWA, and SEIU775. This ordinance created labor protections for Seattle domestic workers.
This was in Seattle, but Facinelli said they plan to continue efforts to organize their community the federal way. She gave the example of the rental stabilization proposal they’re working on with Federal Way.
“There’s also a local campaign here to stabilize rents, and it’s specifically for Federal Way. But there are a lot of cities in the south that are getting more and more rents,” Facinelli said. “We’re part of this coalition that’s just beginning to form, which is working on a proposal Federal Road City Council not to increase the rent too much.”