By Taylor Sanchez
NASHVILLE, TN —The body of Nashville’s Latino community, Nolensville Road, is thriving with Latino owned businesses, and at its heart is Casa Azafrán and the organization that founded the community center, Conexión Americas. According to the organization they “believe that true integration of immigrant families is achieved when the process is understood as a two-way learning experience that engages both the newcomers and the host community in reciprocal understanding, respect and adaptation.”
The organization is currently run by executive co-directors Tara Lentz and Martha Silva. Lentz highlighted that in 2022, Conexión Americans celebrated 20 years in the Middle Tennessee Community.
The organization has a diverse staff that Lentz celebrates as being 86 percent Latino/a, 96 percent women and 46 percent first-generation immigrants. She further mentions that several staff members identify as LGBTQ and all staff members speak Spanish. The nature of the families they work with requires cultural sensitivity, and most staff positions are required to be bilingual and many are required to at least be bicultural.
Lentz notes Conexión helps more than 10,000 individuals and their families in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. The organization assists Latino families in “buying homes, starting businesses, learning English, joining the workforce, and helping their children succeed in school.”
Casa Azafrán serves as a community center for this area, opening Azafrán Park in 2018. According to Lentz, the park includes a playground, green space, and public art. This fiscal year, they launched the Eviction Right to Counsel program in partnership with the Nashville Hispanic Bar Association and Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. Due to the increasing numbers of evictions in minority communities, this is a vital program to ensure that individuals can fight back against unjust evictions.
They are currently developing their new workforce development program, including an exciting partnership with Belmont University and Sodexo called the Mesa Komal Café. This will allow immigrant entrepreneurs to gain restaurant management experience and to sell products in a storefront location according to Lentz.
Saturday, July 8th, 12:30 pm to 5 pm they will hold the Battle of the Paellas event at Love and Exile Winery.
Tickets are $45 and can be purchased through EventBrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/battle-of-the-paellas-tickets-647058588657.
If you would like to learn more about Conexión Americas, check out their website at https://www.conexionamericas.org.
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