Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15th kicked off National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the history, heritage, and accomplishments of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. 

In the San Francisco Bay Area, over 128,000 people identify as Hispanic, 31,000 of whom live in Bayview Hunters Point. 3rd Street is proud to be a part of this community and support our Latinx youth through high-quality youth development, housing, and counseling programs. We caught up with a few of our Latinx youth to learn more about their culture and experiences growing up in San Francisco, their time at 3rd Street, and community issues important to them. 

Jasmine is Mexican and Puerto Rican, 20 years old, and in our HealthCore program. HealthCore is a one-year training program that prepares transition aged youth (ages 18-27) for careers as certified nursing assistants, clinical health outreach workers, and other allied health jobs. Jasmine is currently working towards becoming a nurse and said this:

“We need more Latinos in the healthcare system. I have a few family members in the field as well which has helped me to see that there is a need for us to help advocate for [Latinos’] healthcare and their needs.”

Alondra is 14 years old and treasures her Mexican heritage. Alondra was part of the Summer Health Education Program (SHEP). SHEP takes place during the summer months when school is on break; we teach youth how to make informed choices about their health and the relationship between poverty, race, and chronic disease. “Being able to understand the worries, suffering, and joy of Hispanic culture [is important to me]. Being Latina means valuing and appreciating every aspect of my culture.”

Alexandra is another 14 year old SHEP participant. “My parents were born in Mexico, I was born here and am grateful to have certain opportunities that others don’t. To me, being Latina is being involved with the great culture…there’s always an extra importance of being involved with family and your community.” A strong sense of community and a desire to positively contribute runs deep within the young Latinx culture. 

Victor is 19 years old and currently attending City College of San Francisco (CCSF). He first heard about HealthCore in his CCSF Nutritional Biology class. Victor was born in Mexico and sees the importance of healthcare and its impact on Latinos, “Being Latino in the Mission District of San Francisco, I see a lot of health issues within my community. Public Health is important, being educated and having resources is key to helping others as well as helping [myself].”

3rd Street’s involvement with the Latinx community doesn’t end with the youth we serve. We also have Latinx staff who care deeply about our mission and empowering the next generation.

Brenda Rodriguez Flores is a 3rd Street Community Health Worker and a proud Latina in healthcare. “In my role, I work directly with the Bayview Hunters Point youth in order to educate them about sexual health topics such as STI and pregnancy prevention, as well as safe sex practices. I also work with the youth to support their health goals, along with conducting health assessments and surveys to help find their health needs,” explains Brenda. “Growing up in a Latin household…allowed me to learn two languages. Being bilingual has [allowed] me to connect with [youth] on a more personal level and help them obtain…better care.”

At 3rd Street, we are encouraged by the hard-working and thoughtful Latinx youth we have the privilege of working with every day, and the Latinx staff like Brenda, who go the extra mile to ensure all youth are comfortable, regardless of their backgrounds. “Coming from a Latin background, talking about topics such as sexual health can be a little taboo. This may cause discomfort to talk about and conversations about things like safe sex practices may sometimes be avoided entirely. This [influences] my work because I want to be able to foster an open, safe space for the youth. I want to make sure that they feel comfortable enough to ask questions, talk about their concerns, and be able to ask for help if they need it,” said Brenda. 

When asked about her favorite part of her job, Brenda said, “Something I really enjoy about working with 3rd street is getting to help patients. Every time I help a patient I always try to make them feel like someone is there for them and have someone that listens to their concerns. Being able to be part of this organization, I am able to help create bridges between the community and their health goals.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is a special time set aside to acknowledge our Hispanic and Latinx friends and neighbors and their ongoing contributions to our community. As evidenced through our youth, the future is in good hands. Throughout the year, let’s create and maintain a bridge with all the cultures around us to help strengthen the entire community and ensure a brighter future for the next generation. 

3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic | [email protected] | 415-822-1707  ‌

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