Mortgage Relief Program for Connecticut Homeowners 

Governor Ned Lamont announced on Monday the launch of MyHomeCT – a new State of Connecticut program that is providing mortgage relief to homeowners who have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many families have fallen behind on their regular housing payments, placing them at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, more than one-third of Connecticut homeowners have lost employment income and more than one in nine have fallen behind on housing payments at some point during the pandemic.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Connecticut has been awarded approximately $123 million to establish MyHomeCT, a program funded by the Homeowner Assistance Fund. The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) will be working in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Housing to administer the program. 

“The public health crisis that we’ve experienced over the last two years has had a significant impact on the ability of many homeowners to pay for the costs of their housing, which is why we are dedicating this funding to provide much-needed support,� Governor Lamont said. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act and the support of our Congressional delegation, MyHomeCT will ease some of the financial burden that homeowners have faced during this pandemic and will help ensure that their housing situation remains stable. I encourage any homeowner who has come across difficult times since the pandemic to learn more about the program and consider applying.�

50 percent of Hispanic-Latino homeowners lost income by the first quarter of 2021, the highest among any ethnic group. As a result, 16 percent of Hispanic-Latino homeowners were behind on their mortgage payments. That is more than twice the 7 percent share of white homeowners.

MyHomeCT Overview 

The program will be able to help eligible homeowners who have suffered financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic by offering reinstatement, up to 12 months of forward payments, or a combination of both. The assistance is meant to cure and/or prevent mortgage and housing-related delinquencies and foreclosure.

Eligibility requirements include:  

  • Applicants must live in the state of Connecticut and occupy the property as their primary residence.
  • Applicant/household member must have experienced a COVID-19-related financial hardship after January 21, 2020, or experienced a financial hardship before January 21, 2020, which was then exacerbated by the pandemic. Assistance for delinquency prior to January 21, 2020, is capped to three months.
  • Property must be an owner-occupied 1-to-4 unit house, condominium, townhouse, or manufactured home.
  • Homeowners applying for mortgage assistance must have a mortgage that had a principal balance at or below the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the time of origination.
  • Household income must be equal to or less than 150 percent area median income (AMI), adjusted for household size.

Kristin’s Story

Like so many others in Connecticut, Kristin’s family fell on hard times. With two young children at home and only one income, it was becoming difficult to keep up with housing expenses:

“…I got a call one day that saved everything. My mortgage servicer called to tell me about the MyHomeCT program and encouraged me to apply. The application process was easier than I expected, and the amazing relief the program provided was more than I could have ever hoped for. It gave my family a second chance, and we are beyond grateful. Thank you so much to CHFA for keeping my family in our home and our mortgage current!� 

“Due to many unforeseen circumstances, such as job losses or the need to care for loved ones, thousands of Connecticut homeowners are now in the situation where they need assistance or they will be in danger of losing their homes,� Seila Mosquera-Bruno, commissioner of the Department of Housing, said. “The MyHomeCT program will address a great need in our state by providing direct assistance to cure or prevent mortgage delinquencies and pay for other housing-related costs.�


How to Apply: If you are a Connecticut homeowner that has faced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for the MyHomeCT program. Visit: www.chfa.org/MyHomeCT to learn more and to apply.

If you need help with your application, you may call 877-894-4111 (toll-free) or visit one of the MyHomeCT Resource Centers.

The list of resource centers can be found at www.chfa.org/MyHomeCT.


Publisher’s Notes: This article was written in part by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

Illinois Latina leaders pave the way forward for 2022 elections

Delia Ramirez, Illinois’s state representative for the 4th District, is poised to play a pivotal role in the 2022 congressional elections. Not only is she running for the state’s newly drawn 3rd Congressional District, but if elected, she would make history as the first Latina congresswoman from the Midwest.

“It’s about making sure that every woman can see themselves in every space of power,â€� Ramirez said. “Because when we arrive, we are that wild dream realized.â€�

Born and raised in Humboldt Park, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, Delia Ramirez comes from a long line of resilient women; her mother crossed the border when she was pregnant with Delia during her first trimester. “This woman wanted to be in this country because she wanted her daughter to have more than she ever had,� Ramirez said.

She started her career volunteering at shelters to help people find housing and jobs and worked her way up to become a state representative. When there was an open seat in the State House, the people she had helped through the years started asking her to run. “And I said, ‘oh, why me?’ Someone should run but not me. And part of the reason was because I hadn’t seen a young Latina in these spaces,� she said.

Ramirez was among several Illinois Latina candidates who discussed the importance of making space for Latino and female voices in the 2022 elections at the Latinas in Politics forum discussion, which took place at the Hubbard Inn on April 27th.

The panel, which was conducted by the Latina Executives and Entrepreneurs Network (LEEN), featured voices from prominent Illinois representatives such as Illinois State Senator Karina Villa, Maria Reyes, the candidate for the DuPage County Commission Board, Leticia Garcia, the candidate for the Cook County Commission Board, and Claudia Silva-Hernandez, who is running as a judge candidate in the Cook County elections.

May be an image of 9 people and text

Latina representation in politics is more important now than ever before, as only about 3 percent of the voting senators and representatives in Congress are Latinas, despite accounting for as much as 16 percent of the female workforce, according to NBC News.

Even though there’s been a 75 percent increase in the number of Latino elected officials in the past two decades, Latinos make up less than 2 percent of all elected officials in the country, according to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). 

In Illinois, 17.5 percent of the total population identify as Hispanic or Latino, highlighting the need for increased Latino representation in leadership. The Illinois Latino Legislative Caucus currently has 15 elected official members, taking up 9 out of the 118 seats in the Illinois House of Representatives and 6 of the 59 seats in the Illinois Senate.

Ramirez isn’t the only Latina who had to work her way to the top from humble beginnings. State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago) was a school social worker for 15 years before she decided to transition into politics.

Born and raised in DuPage County, Senator Villa only saw white male Republican representation growing up, everywhere from Congress to the State Senate. “I said, why not?” she said when asked what inspired her to run for politics. “Our students need it, our students are suffering, and I didn’t know what to do. Where are the leaders? Why aren’t they here? Why aren’t they listening to the needs of my students?”

Villa said she had never aspired to run for politics, but the need for change led her to go door-to-door, talking to voters, and eventually become a member of the Illinois State Senate for the 25th District.

Cook County Judge candidate Claudia Silva-Hernandez who is running for election in June, said, “I remember sitting in my classes when I was in grade school and feeling kind of invisible and wanting desperately for the teacher to call on me so I can read the paragraph and so they can see that I was smart too, just like everybody else.�

Silva-Hernandez felt the need to run for election because she wanted to prove to others that just because she spoke Spanish didn’t mean that she was any less capable than her peers. “So I want to provide for people who come before us for judge[ship] so that they don’t feel invisible like I did when I was a child,” she said.

The Latina leaders in the panel talked about the need to stop expecting others to step up for them and be the change they want to see in Illinois politics.

Rep. Dagmara Avelar, D-Bolingbrook discussed the tendency among Latina women to “support whoever wants to run� but shy away from running in the elections themselves and said that it was important to change that narrative.
“We never really look back and say like, why not us?� she pointed out.
This reluctance among Latina women to run for elections could be because the lack of Latina representation in state and national politics leads to feelings of uncertainty regarding their political ambitions.

“As Latinas, we can have all the master’s degrees in the world, we can pass 17 pieces of legislation, we can be the ones moving things first in the nation…and we still ask ourselves: are we good enough?â€� Ramirez said.

She looked at the crowd of people present at the panel, some of whom were journalists, some of whom were there because of an interest in Illinois politics, and many of whom were Latina women themselves, and said, “So, what I want to say to all of you here is you are more than good enough­– as entrepreneurs, as nonprofit leaders, and as women who are lifting other women, you are more than good enough.�

Cover photo: Latinas in Politics forum, Hubbard Inn, April 27 (Courtesy of Apps Mandar Bichu).


Apps Mandar Bichu is a graduate student journalist pursuing a Masters of Science in Journalism at Northwestern University.

She is currently interning at The Chicago Reporter and Illinois Latino News (ILLN).

She specializes in multimedia journalism and is passionate about social justice reporting, travel journalism, and all forms of content creation.

You can follow her on Twitter at @ApoorvaaBichu and on LinkedIn: Apoorvaa “Apps” Bichu, or check out her website to learn more about her work: CallMe-Apps.com

Publisher’s Notes: ILLN is collaborating with Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in providing students with mentoring and real work experiences. As such ILLN is part of the professional partnerships within the Social Justice Specialization and as part of Medill’s Metro Media Lab.

The post Illinois Latina leaders pave the way forward for 2022 elections appeared first on ILLN.

Call For Applications: Journalism Camp 2 

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) is pleased to sponsor, once again, the Journalism Camp: Covering Race, Ethnicity, and Culture, a first-in-class 12-week program providing practical guidelines for fair and accurate storytelling.

The FREE virtual workshop led by award-winning news media veteran and twice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)Hugo Balta, returns after a successful launch last Fall. 

Six young journalists from across the country participated in the inaugural class. “I have nothing but good things to say about the camp,â€� said Stephania Rodriguez, a student at Depaul University in Chicago, Illinois. “It exceeded my expectations by feeding my knowledge, allowing me to network and connect with others, and publishing my work.â€�

Boris Q’va had this to say about his experience, “I felt heard when I needed it the most.â€� Q’va is enrolled in the New Media Journalism Master of Arts degree at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. “All of the lectures were equally important to me, but I found myself thinking about Solutions Journalism, and how it builds trust with the public through transparency.â€�


SUGGESTION:Meet The 2021 Fellows


As part of the program, all of the stories produced by the fellows were published on one or all of the Latino News Network news outlets. Balta is the owner and publisher of Connecticut Latino News, part of the Latino News Network.

“It is imperative that students get real work experiences and mentoring to navigate a newsroom that more often than not is not diverse and inclusive,â€� said Balta. 

Due to a lack of equitable representation in newsrooms, there is an urgent need to train journalists to be transparent in news gathering and reporting on the complexity of racial identity, social constructs relating to ethnic terms, and cultural competence.

Covering race, ethnicity, and culture: a guideline for fair and accurate storytelling is a course designed to go beyond the inverted pyramid of basic news writing in examining the terminology, usage, and word choice of stories providing greater visibility and understanding of deep-rooted inequities in all aspects of society.

Guest speakers also share insights on networking with a purpose, strategies for managing one’s career, and the experience of often being the only person of color in the newsroom.

The Journalism Camp is open to all students (undergrad, graduate) in good standing.

The application process runs from May 1 to 29. The weekly class will begin on September 7.

For more information about HZF’s Journalism Camp curriculum, how to apply, and ask questions – please email us at hortenciazavalafoundation


The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) was founded in 2016 in honor of Hugo Balta’s maternal grandmother.

HZF is a not-for-profit organization that helps students offset the costs of higher education with scholarships. In 2021, the organization expanded its support of students to include the Journalism Camp.

Improving access and opportunities to vote in Rhode Island

In this year’s midterm elections, national Hispanic-Latino voter turnout is predicted to meet the record participation in 2018, with nearly 12 million voting in congressional and state elections, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO). Still, that number falls short of the potential, given the community’s population growth increase.

On Tuesday, the Rhode Island state Senate voted 28 to 6 in favor of the Let RI Vote Act, which would permanently adopt measures used in the 2020 election during the pandemic, that resulted in the record number of voter participation.

The move is a major win for organizations like the Let RI Vote campaign that are working to advance voting rights in Rhode Island, giving more people the opportunity to vote.

Marcela Betancur, Executive Director of the Latino Policy Institute (LPI), and campaign spokesperson for the Let RI Vote Campaign was a guest on the Latino News Network podcast, â€œ3 Questions With…â€�. Betancur shared insights on how the proposed legislation will break barriers keeping the Hispanic-Latino electorate and other marginalized communities from voting.

One of the bill’s provisions Betancur says is very exciting to her is that it institutes early voting. �In 2020, we were able to go vote prior to Election Day,� she said. Not �having to stand in line for hours� makes it more convenient for people who do not have flexible schedules to go vote.

In the 2020 general election, 62 percent of the more than 522,000 Rhode Islanders who voted cast their ballots either early or by mail. By comparison, approximately 426,400 Rhode Islanders voted in 2016, and only 9 percent of them voted by mail when early voting was not an option.

Democrats celebrated the approval of the Let RI Vote Act touting it expands voter access, but Republicans warn it could lead to voter fraud. Senator Jessica de la Cruz, a North Smithfield Republican, warned that the legislation would make several “dangerous changes� such as removing notary or witness requirements for mail ballots.

Betancur said the concerns are misplaced. �Today, before this act is even passed, the Board of Election’s practice is verifying that the voter and their signature is the same one when they registered to vote,� she argued. “They’re already not checking a witness. Why do we continue to create this barrier? A lot of it is fear mongering.�

The bill also includes:

  • Allowing voters apply for mail ballots online.
  • Letting voters choose to vote by mail for any reason, without having to give an excuse.
  • Define “early votingâ€� as up to 20 days before Election Day.
  • Provide for each city or town a ballot drop box that’s maintained and regulated by the state Board of Elections.
  • Allow long-term nursing home residents to receive mail ballot applications automatically.
  • Require the secretary of state to update the voter registry at least four times a year.
  • Set up a hotline in multiple languages to provide information about voting and polling locations.

The multilingual voter information hotline, Betancur said, will provide accurate information in the language a person is most comfortable in, like foreign born Hispanics-Latinos who may not be proficient in English.

In 2020, voting by naturalized U.S. citizens was approximately the same rate as those who are Hispanics-Latinos born in the United States, according to a City University of New York study.

The next stop for the legislation is the House of Representatives.

Organ Donation: A Birthday Story  

“Cumpleaños feliz, te deseamos a ti,� our family sang “Happy Birthday,� to my wife, Adriana. “Cumpleaños felices,� we cheered, not the date when she was born, but instead the date she received a new liver. Adriana was born in April, but we also celebrate her birthday in November, thanks to a life-saving organ transplant operation. She had suffered from polycystic liver disease, a rare condition that causes cysts (fluid-filled sacs) to grow throughout the liver.

Soon after the birth of our first child in 2003, my wife’s aggressive form of the disease became even more severe, deforming her organ further. A healthy liver has a smooth appearance weighing between three and three and a half pounds. Adriana’s polycystic liver looking like a cluster of large grapes, weighed just over 20 pounds when it was removed.

The enlarged liver displaced her other organs, complicating her overall health; Adriana would surely die without a transplant. Her medical miracle happened in her native Colombia when doctors told us that an organ donor, a woman who unfortunately died in a car accident, was a match with Adriana.

In general, about 75 percent of people who undergo liver transplants live for at least five years, according to the Mayo Clinic. That means that for every 100 people who receive a liver transplant for any reason, about 75 will live for five years and 25 will die within five years. Adriana celebrated 17 years with her new liver last November.

April is National Donate Life Month. Doctors and advocates say it’s more important than ever to bring attention to the need for organ donors. Approximately every 10 minutes, another person is added to the national waiting list.

I became an organ donor soon after Adriana’s liver transplant. Before then, I was like many Hispanics-Latinos, who are less likely to donate organs than Americans as a whole, according to organ donation experts. Hispanics-Latinos are disproportionately in need of donor organs and are less likely to consent to donation than their non-Hispanic counterparts, reports the National Library of Medicine.

“We have transformed the way that they’re thinking and looking at … organ transplantation,â€� said Dr. Juan Carlos Caicedo, organ transplant surgeon and the director of the Hispanic Transplant Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. In an interview on WTTW’s Latino Voices, Dr. Caicedo told me that his team of 50 medical professionals at Northwestern Medicine’s Hispanic Transplant Program helps break down language and cultural barriers in the Hispanic-Latino community. “To be able to do it in their own language – knowing their culture, because our team is bilingual and bicultural — and removing all the language barriers and cultural barriers, we have been able to engage them in a positive way,â€� he said.

Last year, nephrologists at Loyola University Medical Center told Adriana that her kidneys, which suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), were giving out. PKD is another inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within one’s kidneys, causing them to enlarge and lose function over time. As a result, Adriana is fast approaching the point of needing dialysis. 

I quickly volunteered to be tested to see if I could be a living donor for my wife.

Adriana and I out on the town.

Transplant patients are often reluctant to consider an organ from their spouses because the organs may not be a good match in blood and tissue type. Poor matching can cause the recipient’s immune system to reject the organ.

But a report in the journal Dialysis and Transplantation found that kidney transplantation from spousal donors “has comparable outcomes to those of other living-unrelated donors, and shortens the time spent on the waiting list.â€� 

Adriana is on that list, and the wait could be as long as three years. Happily, Adriana and I learned that I am a solid match to donate my kidney to her. We will have the surgery in June.

There are more than 100,000 people currently on the national transplant waiting list. 

Current statistics show that Americans belonging to minority groups make up nearly 60 percent of those waiting for an organ transplant.  Although a transplant can be successful regardless of the race or ethnicity of the donor and recipient, there is a greater chance of longer-term survival for the recipient if the genetic background of the donor and recipient are closely matched.  

Please consider becoming an organ donor. Americans from every community are needed to help make a life-saving difference. Persons who register as organ donors can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of 75 others. 

Some of those donations can take place while you’re living. For example, living donors can give a lung, kidney, or part of their liver, which can almost regrow to its original size.

Next year, my family looks forward to adding a new June birthday for Adriana, celebrating her new kidney, the gift of life, and our family’s love.


Hugo Balta is the Owner and Publisher of Connecticut Latino News. He and Adriana celebrated 21 years of marriage in February. They reside in Chicago with their two children, Isabella and Esteban.

Latino businesses in Springfield get financial boost

“It will help to enable members of the Hispanic community too be able to afford starting a business and go after their dreams,� said Eastfield Mall property manager Dave Thompson.

The Eastfield Mall and Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce are working together to provide a local, Hispanic-Latino-owned business space inside the mall for one month at no cost.

The mall features a pop-up shop every month that is expected to bring in 12 new Hispanic-Latino “micro-businesses� this year. 

Massachusetts is home to more than 30,000 Hispanic-Latino businesses, 3,800 of which are employer firms that generate over $4.2 billion in annual revenue and create more than 27,000 jobs, according to Betty Francisco CEO of Boston Impact Initiative, co-founder of Amplify Latinx.

“Our economic recovery and growth depends upon the success of Latino businesses and the development of Latino talent in high-growth industries that are in need of diverse talent,� wrote Francisco in an opinion article calling for investments in Hispanic-Latino and Black businesses.

Hispanic-Latino consumer purchasing power is $1.7 trillion today and projected to grow to $2.6 trillion in just three years, according to the LDC 2020 Latino GDP Report. 

State Representative Orlando Ramos secured $100,000 to help fund the Pop-Up Shop Program. “Small and microbusinesses have struggled in the pandemic,� Ramos said. “Many were owned by Black and Latino business owners.�

Businesses can use the grants of about $1,000 to launch a marketing campaign, hire an accountant or cover unexpected expenses as the COVID recovery drags on, said Andrew Melendez, director of the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce.

“Black and Latino micro-businesses are the Commonwealths’ economic engine, and now more than ever, they are in need of direct support with capital infusion and tools to continue to be successful post-pandemic,â€� Melendez said.

More information is available from the chamber by emailing LatinoChamberMA@gmail.com or calling 413-342-1292.


Publisher’s Note: This story is an aggregate from MASSLive, WWLP, and

Cover Photo: ‘Our Modern Love‘, candle and craft vendor, (Credit: Eastfield Mall)

Reaching Latino Voters Is All About The Message

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As the population of Hispanics-Latinos increases in the United States, and with it the number of eligible voters, so does the debate on how to best reach them.

Some thought leaders favor spatial over racial voting techniques, arguing that what a candidate says is more important than who says it.

Democrats are re-evaluating their messaging to Hispanics-Latinos in this year’s midterm elections after the 2020 election saw a substantial vote shift, with 63 percent of Hispanic-Latinos voting for President Joe Biden, down from 71 percent of them voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Republicans are working to build on the success of former President Donald Trump, who made gains among Hispanic-Latino voters in 2020 compared with his 2016 performance. Trump increased votes in heavily Hispanic-Latino Hartford and Bridgeport by five and three percent.

Campaigns traditionally use symbolic cultural messaging like speaking a few words in Spanish, overemphasizing immigration reform, and playing mariachi music in order to engage the constituency. A mistake that ignores life experiences says Antonio Arellano, interim executive director of Jolt Action, a progressive organization in Texas that aims to increase Latino political engagement.

“Both political parties need to recognize that Latinx folks across the country have been here for decades, for centuries and have…for generations been overlooked, neglected and underrepresented,� Arellano told Time.

The assumption is that the Hispanic-Latino electorate is a monolith. As if, for example, what motivates Puerto Ricans in Willimantic, Connecticut to vote isn’t very different than Mexican Americans in Imperial County, California.

The nuances range in age, race, gender, religion, socio-economic status, political ideology and educational attainment. And since most of the more than 60 million Hispanics-Latinos in the U.S. are born in the country, many social scientists don’t believe language is a common barrier.

“For some Latino voters, it’s not that they don’t understand English,” said Valeriano Ramos, Director of Strategic Alliances, Everyday Democracy. “It is that they don’t identify with those candidates.”

CTLatinoNews.com (CTLN) s participating in Advancing Democracy: Connecticut Solutions Journalism Initiative as part of eight reporting projects in 10 newsrooms across the United States. The six-month program is sponsored by the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN); its mission is to spread the practice of solutions journalism: rigorous reporting on responses to social problems.

CTLN is exploring solutions to why Hispanics-Latinos don’t vote by engaging with thought leaders in Connecticut and drawing from the best practices and lessons learned in communities across the country.


Studies find that messaging is paramount for Hispanic-Latino voters, especially when the candidate is not a member of the ethnic group. In Racial or Spatial Voting? The Effects of Candidate Ethnicity and Ethnic Group Endorsements in Local Elections, Cheryl Boudreau, Christopher S. Elmendorf, and Scott A. MacKenzie’s analysis demonstrate that candidates’ ideological positions powerfully shape voters’ choices in local elections, even when they must choose between candidates of different ethnicities.

The theory of spatial voting concludes that candidates take positions in an ideological space and that voters choose the candidate who is closest to their own ideological position. Thus, spatial voting produces a close alignment between voters’ policy views and those of the candidates they choose.

Boudreau, Elmendorf, and MacKenzie studied the 2011 mayoral election in San Francisco, a minority-majority population, as non-Hispanic whites comprise less than half of the people, 42 percent, according to the 2010 Census. The Asian population at the time was 33 percent, and Hispanics-Latinos were 15 percent. Incumbent Ed Lee successfully defeated John Avalos and Dennis Herrera to become the first elected Asian-American mayor of a major American city.

Their analysis indicates that Lee’s ideology strongly affected voters’ choices, even after accounting for the impact of race/ethnicity, partisanship, evaluations of local government performance, and other factors.

Gains and losses notwithstanding, most Americans eligible to vote in 2020 said they were contacted by a campaign or a group supporting a campaign in the month before the November election. Fewer Hispanic-Latino and Asian American citizens reported such contacts, according to the Pew Research Center. A mistake Republicans are working to make sure doesn’t happen again this year.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has opened Hispanic Community Centers across the U.S., including one in the city of New Britain. Overall, conservatives are aware that Democrats do better with Hispanic-Latino voters; the Integrated Communications and Research (ICR) poll found that 23 percent identify as Republican. So, the GOP is taking an active role in nurturing Hispanic-Latino support.

Ruben Rodriguez, Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Connecticut, leads the statewide efforts. “We need to change the way Latinos vote in Connecticut,” said Rodriguez.

Republicans are eyeing the 5th Congressional seat, the Governor’s seat, and the Senate seat. Democrats currently hold all. The party thinks the state is ready for change.

“As chairman of the group, the biggest goal is to increase the participation in all of the political levels. We want the candidates to represent the true value of what we want to bring,” said Rodriguez.

Trump was successful in mobilizing conservative Hispanics-Latinos in 2020. Republicans are focusing their messaging to Hispanics-Latinos on strengthening the economy, religious and traditional values.

“Our message of family, faith, and free enterprise is one that resonates with all people, regardless of race, creed, or religion,� said George Logan, a former Republican state senator running for the 5th district seat.

Whether engagement with Hispanic-Latino voters by candidates from either party focused on policy positions will be successful in resonating with them, one thing is certain; both need them to go out and vote. Unfortunately, that’s not an easy task, as midterm elections typically result in lower turnout rates across all voting groups.


Cover Photo: Photo by cottonbro.

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Call for applications: Journalism Camp 2

The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) is pleased to sponsor, once again, the Journalism Camp: Covering Race, Ethnicity, and Culture, a first-in-class 12-week program providing practical guidelines for fair and accurate storytelling.

The FREE virtual workshop led by award-winning news media veteran and twice president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)Hugo Balta, returns after a successful launch last Fall. 

Six young journalists from across the country participated in the inaugural class. “I have nothing but good things to say about the camp,” said Stephania Rodriguez, a student at Depaul University in Chicago, Illinois. “It exceeded my expectations by feeding my knowledge, allowing me to network and connect with others, and publishing my work.”

Boris Q’va had this to say about his experience, “I felt heard when I needed it the most.” Q’va is enrolled in the New Media Journalism Master of Arts degree at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida. “All of the lectures were equally important to me, but I found myself thinking about Solutions Journalism, and how it builds trust with the public through transparency.”


SUGGESTION: Meet The 2021 Fellows


As part of the program, all of the stories produced by the fellows were published on one or all of the Latino News Network news outlets. Balta is the owner and publisher of the Latino News Network.

“It is imperative that students get real work experiences and mentoring to navigate a newsroom that more often than not is not diverse and inclusive,” said Balta.

Due to a lack of equitable representation in newsrooms, there is an urgent need to train journalists to be transparent in news gathering and reporting on the complexity of racial identity, social constructs relating to ethnic terms, and cultural competence.

Covering race, ethnicity, and culture: a guideline for fair and accurate storytelling is a course designed to go beyond the inverted pyramid of basic news writing in examining the terminology, usage, and word choice of stories providing greater visibility and understanding of deep-rooted inequities in all aspects of society.

Guest speakers also share insights on networking with a purpose, strategies for managing one’s career, and the experience of often being the only person of color in the newsroom.

The Journalism Camp is open to all students (undergrad, graduate) in good standing.

The application process runs from May 1 to 29. The weekly class will begin on September 7.

For more information about HZF’s Journalism Camp curriculum, how to apply, and ask questions – please email us at hortenciazavalafoundation


The Hortencia Zavala Foundation (HZF) was founded in 2016 in honor of Hugo Balta’s maternal grandmother.

HZF is a not-for-profit organization that helps students offset the costs of higher education with scholarships. In 2021, the organization expanded its support of students to include the Journalism Camp.

Organ Donation: A Birthday Story

“Cumpleaños feliz, te deseamos a ti,” our family sang “Happy Birthday,” to my wife, Adriana. “Cumpleaños felices,” we raised our voices as she celebrated another year with her new liver. Adriana had suffered from polycystic liver disease, a rare condition that causes cysts (fluid-filled sacs) to grow throughout the liver until the selflessness of a young woman saved her life.

Soon after the birth of our first child in 2003, my wife’s aggressive form of the disease became even more severe, deforming her organ further. A healthy liver has a smooth appearance weighing between three and three and a half pounds. Adriana’s polycystic liver looking like a cluster of large grapes, weighed just over 20 pounds when it was removed.

The enlarged liver displaced her other organs, complicating her overall health; Adriana would surely die without a transplant. Her medical miracle happened in her native Colombia. An organ donor, a woman who unfortunately died in an accident, was a match with Adriana.

In general, about 75 percent of people who undergo liver transplants live for at least five years, according to the Mayo Clinic That means that for every 100 people who receive a liver transplant for any reason, about 75 will live for five years and 25 will die within five years. Adriana celebrated 17 years with her new liver last November.

Adriana celebrates her birthday in April 2022

April is National Donate Life Month. Doctors and advocates say it’s more important than ever to bring attention to the need for organ donors. Approximately every 10 minutes, another person is added to the national waiting list.

I became an organ donor soon after Adriana’s liver transplant. Before then, I was like many Hispanics-Latinos, who are less likely to donate organs than Americans as a whole, according to organ donation experts. Hispanics-Latinos are disproportionately in need of donor organs and are less likely to consent to donation than their non-Hispanic counterparts, reports the National Library of Medicine.

“We have transformed the way that they’re thinking and looking at … organ transplantation,” said Dr. Juan Carlos Caicedo, organ transplant surgeon and the director of the Hispanic Transplant Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. In an interview on WTTW’s Latino Voices, Dr. Caicedo told me that his team of 50 medical professionals at Northwestern Medicine’s Hispanic Transplant Program helps break down language and cultural barriers in the Hispanic-Latino community. “To be able to do it in their own language – knowing their culture, because our team is bilingual and bicultural — and removing all the language barriers and cultural barriers, we have been able to engage them in a positive way,” he said.

Last year, nephrologists at Loyola University Medical Center told Adriana that her kidneys, which suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), were giving out. PKD is another inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within one’s kidneys, causing them to enlarge and lose function over time. As a result, Adriana is quickly reaching the point of needing dialysis. 

I quickly volunteered to be tested to see if I could be a living donor for my wife.

Transplant patients are often reluctant to consider an organ from their spouses because the organs may not be a good match in blood and tissue type. Poor matching can cause the recipient’s immune system to reject the organ.

But a report in the journal Dialysis and Transplantation found that kidney transplantation from spousal donors “has comparable outcomes to those of other living-unrelated donors, and shortens the time spent on the waiting list.�

Adriana and I on the town

Adriana is on that list, and the wait could be as long as three years. Happily, Adriana and I learned that I am a solid match to donate my kidney to her. We will have the surgery in June.

There are more than 100,000 people currently on the national transplant waiting list.

Current statistics show that Americans belonging to minority groups make up nearly 60 percent of those waiting for an organ transplant.  Although a transplant can be successful regardless of the race or ethnicity of the donor and recipient, there is a greater chance of longer-term survival for the recipient if the genetic background of the donor and recipient are closely matched.  

Please consider becoming an organ donor. Americans from every community are needed to help make a life-saving difference. Persons who register as organ donors can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of 75 others.

Some of those donations can take place while you’re living. For example, living donors can give a lung, kidney, or part of their liver, which can almost regrow to its original size.

Next year, my family hopes to add a June birthday for Adriana, the first of many celebrating her new kidney, our family’s love, and the gift of life.

The post Organ Donation: A Birthday Story appeared first on ILLN.

MALN Opinion+: Roberto Jimenez

This week on MALN Opinion+ we spoke with Roberto Jimenez-Rivera who is running for State Representative of Massachusetts in the new 11th Suffolk District.

Jimenez-Rivera said that watching his mother, a former teacher, and his father, a funeral director, dedicate their careers to helping people in vulnerable positions taught him the importance of building community and valuing servicework. It essentially planted the seeds that would eventually sprout into the transition from a career in education to running for office.

“I kind of grew up knowing that caring for people and making sure that you’re there to help and support is one of the most important things that you can do,� he said.

His career in politics started in 2018, as a volunteer for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s first congressional campaign. 

“That was really the first time that I was able to see politics as a way to build the movement that’s ultimately gonna bring people together, to help us achieve what we know that we need for our people to move forward and have the opportunities that they need,â€� he said.

He decided to run for Chelsea School Committee in 2019, was elected and currently serves on the board. He says that if he was chosen as State Representative he would continue to vouch for better education for the children of Chelsea through funding, more minority representation in teachers and diversifying school curriculum to better reflect the lived experiences of students.

Being inclusive to Chelsea’s diverse citizens is important to Jimenez-Rivera who says that he has worked to ensure that his campaign is completely bilingual and accessible to multilingual families as well.

“Sometimes you have a couple where one of them speaks Spanish and the other one speaks both languages, and then the kids only know English, but then maybe the grandma lives there and she only speaks Spanish and so I think it’s really important to me that we’re prepared to engage with whatever household, whether it’s all English, all Spanish or somewhere in between, to make sure that we’re able to approach everybody,� he said.

Jimenez-Rivera speaks on the importance of candidates being both inclusive and hands-on in their attempt to reach people. He says that during his last campaign he personally knocked on one-thousand doors out of the two-thousand his team reached. He says that he hopes to double his outreach this time around and shares his excitement to speak with people face-to-face, listen to the issues that matter to them and let them know that he wants to help.

“I might not have the solutions to everything but together we can work on finding those solutions and I’m more than happy to do the homework and make sure that we are finding the solutions and advocating for them together with the people of this community, but also together with other communities that will want to partner with us, because they know that the solutions that we find will be good not just for this district but for everybody in Massachusetts.�

Resources mentioned in this video:

Campaign Website: https://electroberto.org

Roberto Jimenez-Rivera’s Twitter:https://twitter.com/hashtagRoberto

More information: https://malatinonews.com/roberto-jimenez-rivera-the-candidate/

Email: roberto@electroberto.org