MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — We are about halfway through Hispanic Heritage Month here along the Gulf Coast, which will wrap up on Oct. 15th.
To help celebrate the culture and contribution of Latino and Hispanic Americans. We’ve had a variety of guests from the Hispanic community on our Red Couch. Today, We have Juan Torres, the CEO and co-founder of an organization called BELONG. It is a volunteer-based organization that helps welcome immigrants and provides a number of services to people located in America.
Read the full interview below or watch it in the video above.
Bill: Well, we are about halfway through Hispanic Heritage Month here along the Gulf Coast, which will wrap up on October 15th.
Jessica: To help celebrate the culture and contribution of Latino and Hispanic Americans. We’ve had a variety of guests from the Hispanic community on our red couch this morning. We have Juan Torres, the CEO and co-founder of an organization called Belong. It is a volunteer based organization that helps welcome immigrants and provides a number of services to people locating in America.
Juan Torres, Co-founder and CEO, BELONG: That is correct. Belong it’s for immigrant children and their families. So when a new family, an immigrant family comes from a Abele, it’s this, as any of us can imagine, going to a new city. There’s so many needs from housing work, and it’s even tougher when you don’t have anyone that you know, that you can connect with. So our organization is there to do that to make sure we connect with those families and make sure that their basic needs are met, especially when they’re having any family or friends.
But, you know, we in a way where they’re the welcoming friends.
Bill: Now you’re from Mexico yourself and being an immigrant. How is that shaped your passion and drive for this organization?
Juan Torres: I would say, you know, our organization serves from an immigrant perspective. And this gives myself when I when I arrive to the U.S. I didn”t speak any English.
And of course, I have no idea what living in the U.S. would be. So others that contribute to help and help me understand not only the culture, but also help with basic just information, you know, to know where things were, how things work out, you know, they encourage you. It’s not an easy being an immigrant or a newcomer to a new country.
You know, like any of us would go anywhere. You immediately want to look for help if it helps. And that help is provided.
Jessica: And you mentioned the language barrier, which is certainly just one of the obstacles What kind of services does your organization belong provide for immigrants?
Juan Torres: On the language part, we offer ESL classes and tutoring, which we do is kind of like a combo We basically, since our focus is immigrant children and their families, we on a weekly basis, we provide tutoring.
And while the children are being tutor, the parents taking ESL class.
Jessica: ESL is English as a second language.
Juan Torres: Absolutely, yes.
Bill: And as people come here, I think the biggest question you mentioned that you don’t know where to go. You don’t know who. How do people find you?
Juan Torres: We have been active since 2010. So other organizations know our number. They know what we do and they help others connect with us.
Bill: And you what you want to be kind of a one stop shop for people who go?
Juan Torres: Absolutely. There’s different needs to different people. Some people come through very, very extreme needs and others just basically relocating to the city. So if it is just a matter of knowing where to get a driver’s license or where to go get, you know, classes of services.
The language is the biggest part. We always try to connect with folks that are bilingual to make sure that we provide the help.
Jesscia: And if someone is watching this morning real quickly, if they want to become a part of belong, if they to want to help out right
Juan Torres: We do have a website is w w w do you belong dot org.And that website, there is a place for site to sign in as a volunteer.