The parking lot of Gainesville Towne Center was packed out Saturday, June 9, as people came to visit the first health resource fair held by The Hispanic Alliance GA, or La Alianza.
The event featured informational booths set up by local businesses and organizations, plus a wide array of other activities including raffles, music, dancing, inflatables for kids and tacos from Carniceria Tapatia.
Vanesa Sarazua, Founder and Executive Director of La Alianza, said the nonprofit strives to help the Hispanic community while focusing on areas of health, education, finance and legal issues involving immigration status.
“We wanted to have an outreach event like this because I think the Hispanic community needs a connection with the resources around them,” she said. “Today we have representatives from companies and organizations like MedLink and the health department, with free health exams, resources for special-needs children, and even the library and police department.
“We are definitely going to have a health fair annually and we will also have job and education fairs. This week makes a year that La Alianza has been around. We want to continue to help as many people as we can.”
Teresa Prado Cerda has worked for OrderExpress for a little over a year and had never even heard about La Alianza before she saw the fair’s event page on Facebook.
“OrderExpress is a check-cashing company that also helps with money transfers all over the U.S. and Mexico,” she said. “I think what La Alianza is doing with this event will help a lot of people. They should do two or three of these a year.”
Emily Garca and her mother Sandra were also new to La Alianza and its outreach efforts.
“We didn’t even know this event was going on. We were just going shopping here in town and saw the tents and decided to check it out,” Emily said. “It’s good to inform people about the things that are available to them that they might not be aware of though.”
Farmers Insurance was one of many companies passing out information.
“One thing I’ve noticed this morning while talking to people is that they don’t know that they need insurance,” agent David Saucedo said. “Several of the people I talked to are even business owners. I think having events like this will teach the community a lot.”
Elton Garcia, a volunteer for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, urged the need for more voter registration within the Hispanic community.
“It’s important that people register to vote, because as more immigrants come to the United States, it’s a way to get involved in American life. They may also not have had the opportunity back home,” he said. “Someone immigrating to the U.S. might think to themselves, ‘The government can’t or won’t help me’, but by voting, they have the power to elect their officials.
“Gainesville is home to a pretty large Hispanic population so if everyone was registered to vote, they would have a big impact on the community.”
Alexandra and Claudia Castillo, another daughter-mother duo, came to the fair to take advantage of the available resources.
“My mom has definitely been talking with a lot of the people here and everyone seems so helpful,” Alexandra said.