Homies Unidos is a community-based organization serving immigrant communities through violence prevention and intervention initiatives, including criminal justice and immigrant rights advocacy.
For many years, Homies Unidos has worked with at-risk youth in predominantly immigrant communities, including recent immigrants who have fled poverty and violence in Latin America and made their journey to neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles. It came to our attention that many of these young men and women were discontinuing their education, getting caught in the web that is our criminal justice system, becoming teen parents, becoming homeless, and being recruited by the same gangs that they had fled in their countries of origin. The state’s immediate response to this youth justice crisis was increased policing and punitive policies in schools. However, this approach has proven ineffective in addressing the core issues that have led youth to engage in these cycles of violence and trauma. Policing and criminalization does not address the challenges these youth face with language acquisition, legal barriers to employment and resources, broken family ties, and culture shock.
The staff at Homies Unidos understands the challenges that youth face in marginalized communities, because we embody many of the outcomes that result from structural inequalities, inaccessibility to resources, and cycles of trauma and violence. Our dynamic team includes individuals who are undocumented, formerly incarcerated, formerly gang involved, immigrants and children of immigrants, teen parents, college graduates, and so much more. Members of our team can relate to the experience of fleeing poverty and violence, having immigrated from Central America during times of war in the 1980s. These experiences enable us to be creative in our approach by highlighting the importance of community-building in our personal journeys towards redemption and success. We know through our own experiences that it takes a village to ensure that an individual not only survives, but thrives.
Homies Unidos is launching the Mujeres in the Lucha initiative to continue providing young women of color in our community with a safe space to learn, laugh, cry, and fight injustice. We know that young women in our community face intersectional hardships and need strong women mentors to empower them in the face of injustice and inequality. Young women in our programs have described their experiences with domestic violence, sexual harassment and abuse, and violence against women. For this reason, we have felt that it is critical to be intentional in our prevention and intervention strategies. We have sought out resources to provide victim of crime assistance and gender-based youth development curriculum. The Mujeres in the Lucha initiative works towards exposing youth to opportunities for higher education, job training, professional development, community engagement, health resources, and more.
Our team’s efforts have been recently compromised due to the ongoing public health crisis concerning COVID-19. In light of California governor Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order, Homies Unidos has ceased all on-site operations and postponed all meetings and events until further notice. This has made it more challenging than ever to continue to serve the vulnerable young men and women who will be unable to seek refuge within our space from potentially violent environments. We understand that vulnerable individuals are currently at an increased risk of discontinuing their education, becoming victims of violence, experiencing food insecurity and homelessness, and getting entangled in the web that is our criminal justice system. For this reason, we must be innovative and creative in response to the violence prevention and intervention needs of our Mujeres in the Lucha members and community at large.
Amidst school closures, employment lay-offs, and empty shelves, Homies Unidos is launching a Community Response Initiative in an attempt to mitigate some of the most immediate needs of youth and families during this time. Our team, led by fierce women passionate about social justice and community care, will assemble care packages for distribution to youth and families, including teen parents, single parents, undocumented and mixed-status households, formerly incarcerated individuals, and families of currently-incarcerated individuals.
Care packages will include all or some of the following items, continent upon need and availability: food items, snacks, water bottles, toilet paper and toiletries, hand sanitizer, hand soap, female hygiene products, diapers and infant care items, etc. We believe that these items may be classified as essential care items because their need is ongoing, and providing youth and families with all or some of these items can alleviate some of the stress and financial strain brought on by the current situation.
By contributing to the Community Response Initiative organized by the Mujeres in the Lucha team, you will help us reach our goal of assembling a minimum of fifty (50) care packages, to be distributed from March 23, 2020 to April 17, 2020. Each care package will contain information regarding local and countywide resources available in response to the ongoing public health crisis, in addition to essential care items.
Together, we can continue uplifting young women of color and inspiring them to dream beyond borders, cages, and jail cells.
Oscar Alberto Dominguez
Homies Unidos Denver
Back to menú