Abelardo de la Peña Jr.
- Before 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans’ Latino population hovered around 3%; it’s now around 4.5%, according to a 2008 census survey (CNN.com 8.19.09). The nonprofit Puentes (Bridges) New Orleans, founded in 2007, helps established and newly arrived Latino residents in the rebuilding city, bringing visibility to their struggles and success.
- The org offers homebuyer training courses, credit review services, a public safety initiative and leadership training. Their LatiNOLA website lists volunteer opportunities, conducts voter education and registration, provides leadership growth opportunities, organizes events and hosts blogs.
- We saw a Puente-organized storefront photo display at the Riverwalk Marketplace called “Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors,” which shares insight into the lives of 15 Latin American immigrants living in the region (Iconoculture observation 12.19.09).
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Latinos lived in the New Orleans area as a forgotten minority. The disaster not only brought with it an influx of immigrant Latino laborers, but a willingness to become more self-sufficient and to be part of the city’s rebuilding.
- Brands that step up to assist organizations like Puentes help bring stability and optimism to the still-struggling region.