Building Wealth Through Collaboration

Maribel Pastor, Jorge Solis-Muñoz

Given the rise in criminal activity in Seattle, exacerbated by the socioeconomic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for infrastructure and community resources has never been more essential.

In particular, the flooding in South Park (SP) caused by the King Tides of the Duwamish River has shown that our friends and neighbors need a safe place to congregate and access emergency services.

Since 2005, Villa Comunitaria (Villa) has been South King County’s “go-to” hub for case management, resource navigation, and rental assistance, mainly for those who identify as BIPOC. Villa also currently provides a multitude of different services for many clients. Our goal is to empower our community through leadership and economic development programs that teach English, the modern use of computers and electronics, and how to participate in our economy by learning about business. 

We also lead case management for aspiring citizens wishing to join the democratic processes. In 2020, we launched our new early-learning cooperative, working to teach parents how to connect with their children throughout their development and education.

Photo: Case Management: Coordinating needs with resources. (Villa Comunitaria_

Villa has grown with the Latino and BIPOC communities by collaborating with partners to solve unmet needs. Unfortunately, we neither have adequate physical space to house all our programs nor convertible assets for support in cases of emergency. 

The Flooding of the Duwamish River has exacerbated this existing challenge and has caused families to be displaced as their homes and streets were polluted with water and toxic waste. 

Villa has been on the front lines, doing everything we can to ensure the safety and well-being of those affected. The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition has also voiced the need for a safe space as we head into a safety and crime prevention workshop on September 16th. 

Two women were injured by grazing bullets, and their families were traumatized in the Springtime this year. During the summer, there were three reports of vandalism in our community garden at Marra Farms on 4th Ave S Seattle. The farm gives space for agricultural business partners of color and their clients. In the end, this activity reflects a need not met. 

We need leaders to invest heavily in community-based organizations.

We, along with the City government and its departments, have known the need for infrastructure for quite some time. Several community-based organizations, including Villa, met with Mayor Bruce Harrell in SP in February. 

The neighboring organizations have reiterated the people’s need for safe spaces. The uptick in crime and displacement further legitimizes these calls for infrastructure and community funding. We have been reactive to these catastrophes,  and now, we aim to be proactive.

The time has come for Villa to lead the efforts in modeling resiliency, which starts by securing our own building. Villa is about to launch our 2023 Capital Campaign to provide the community the space we all need. 

Our goal is clear. We want to raise enough money to invest in a building that’s a cultural anchor, a center for community enrichment, and a haven for SP’s diverse population. The building we envision will offer our most vulnerable communities a place to breathe in times of economic and environmental crisis.

We believe there is a compelling story here about a diverse, albeit lower-income Seattle community taking the initiative to help solve a multifaceted challenge by addressing a realistic need. 

We share our story to raise awareness and hope and to raise our chances of encouraging others to share their struggles and accomplishments.

Cover Photo: Dia de la Familia Resource Fair. (Villa Comunitaria)

Maribel Pastor is the Bilingual Outreach Coordinator and Jorge Solis-Muñoz is the Interim Operations Support with Villa Comunitaria.

Publisher’s Notes: To learn more about how Villa Comunitaria serves the public, please visit their website: HERE.

WA Latino News partners with Villa in best serving the Hispanic Latino communities.

The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the authors are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the WALN.

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