Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SACA serves growing Latino community

Over one third of Lancaster’s population is Latino, a diverse Spanish-speaking group of cultures and nationalities. The stated mission of the Lancaster’s Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) is “to foster and facilitate the cultural, social, civic and economic development of the Latino Community of the City and County of Lancaster through the provision of human services, employment and training, and behavioral health services.”

According to Allison Weber, SACA’s Director of Community Relations & Education, Latinos have been drawn from nearby metropolitan areas: “Once you have a burgeoning culture here, we get the services: We have a lot of good Latino restaurants, we have employers who hire a lot of Latino people, for this size community we have a lot of non-profit agencies. So it just may be that things are more accessible.”

The avenues through which SACA pursues its mission are as creative and diverse as the community it serves.

The headquarter at 545 Pershing Avenue on the Southeast End of the Lancaster City houses the largest senior center in Lancaster County, and provides breakfast and lunch to senior citizens and the homeless. On a chilly Thursday morning, around 9am, the center is already bustling with activity. Dozens of visitors socialize in the high-ceilinged atrium while, beyond a wide set of glass doors, a large group of senior citizens enjoy breakfast in the cafeteria.

Other services provided by SACA include:

- WLCH Radio Centro (91.3 FM), broadcasting Spanish educational and culture programming 18 hours a day
- Employment Desk, connecting workers with prospective employers
Career Development & Training, and Adult Education
- YouthBuild, a “leadership development program for young adults that provides educational (GED) classes, construction training, volunteer service opportunities, case management, career preparation, individual support, and graduate follow-up”
- HIV/AIDS & HepC Services
- Behavioral HEALTH Services, including
- Nuestra ClĂ­nica Behavioral Health Services
- Mental Health & Drug and Alcohol
- Outpatient Programs
- Adolescent Counseling and Therapeutic Services

In the near future, SACA hopes to begin broadcasting a new Spanish Public Television station in the Lancaster area. The organization has already obtained the necessary licenses and much of the necessary equipment. Grant funding stands as the only significant hurdle to bringing Spanish educational programming to the airwaves in Central PA.

To learn more about Lancaster’s Spanish American Civic Association, visit