|Transcript of Willie Cartagena Interview|
In Coamo, Puerto Rico, is that I have
It’s at south part of the island
Mjm. Near in what, what is about it?
it’s near Ponce, one of the
biggest cities in the south of the island, mjm.
I have a book on Puerto Rico fishing, I want to send it to you
Should I send it here, at this (inaudible)?
Oh, yes, yes, yes
Ok. All right. so, so c, could you just kind of tell us how you ended up, I mean, how you started out in life, and then how you en, en, made it your way into North Carolina, in leadership?
Yes, so I will. I, what I said before, I born, I born in Puerto Rico, on a, you know, one, two, schools, until I graduated from high school. After that, I joined the army, where I, retired in 2000. my wife is from here, from, North Carolina
So, we decided to stayed in, in this area, in (Darley?), North Carolina, and that’s when I start connecting with the Latino, ah, community. Some of the people ask me why I get involved in the community, in the latino issues, when, you know, I’m born, born in Puerto Rico, I am not, I am a US citizen
So why I am working very hard to try to help those Latinos in need, you know? I love to help people, I that’s the reason why, I’m doing this. Me, ma, one of the main things that we find out is, or I find out was that we have is the lack of n, oh, of information that the people need to know, and that’s the reason why I get involved in this, oh, type of, oh, situations, so try to help the people. I started by going to the, city, the court, city, and try to translate for some of the Latinos that they need to go to court, and you know, and I went to court, I tried to help, on, I we, in there I found out that is a lack of information
That the people need to know to better themselves, so try to stay away f, from, problems, troubles. Ah, I went with, ah, the first guy I met here in North Carolina, when I moved to (Darley?) was, or is mister Gaspar Gonzalez, that’s how I get involved with the community, ‘cause, he is well known in this area, of the state. And from, two thousand, that when I moved from here to North Carolina, this side of the state, I’m being working with him, hand to hand, hand in hand, to try to help the, the community. One of the things I decided to do was to, build a, a center. The center was a, a part of, of the community. We decided to build the center because of, again, tried to help pass information. We decided, to teach English in, in, in, in the center, we have computers, we have, clinics that come to the center, and that’s how, how we get involved with the community. Again, you know, we no make no difference we come from
We need to work together to try to better ourselves. And that’s what we try to do.
Why, Why don’t you tell us something from the beginning, from the time you were in, in Puerto Rico? Ah, how was it? Ah, where were you, ah, Puerto Rico? Ah, how was the community where you come from? Was it, what, what kind of community was it? Say something about from the very beginning and try to move on.
Ok. Well, ah, I came from, I was born in Cuamo. Cuamo is a small town down, ah, in the south part of the island, where, ah, the main thing that we do over there is play baseball, because that’s what, what Puerto Rican’s we do well. I played baseball, and also, ah, ah, we have the half marathon, one of the best in the world, the “Marathon San Blas”, that’s what we, were knowing the around the world, so that would become from playing baseball and, run marathons
So that was my part of my life. When I decided to join the army, in 2000, I mean, in, in 1970, that, when I joined the army until I retired in, in 2000
So you joined the army there?
Yes, sir, I joined the army in Puerto Rico, so, I wanted to see the world, so
That’s what I did
Were you, were, was the army open at that time, is that army or is that air force, or what?
Well, I was, the army was, air force, and then you have, the navy station in (level 2?)
Aha. There’s (Rosenberg road?)
Rosenberg road is a
So, yes. Then we have Camp Santiago, where the national guard
Is training to the, deployments around the world
So, were your station there, in Puerto Rico, (right aware?), or did you go…?
No, ah, I went to, ah, my first station was South Carolina
Fort Jackson from there, I went to, Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Bragg, I’ve been all over the world, so
And you’ve been (in the world?)?
Overseas, I’ve been overseas
I’ve been in different, complex, that we, that we have, we’re being involved, so
And how did you meet your wife? (inaudible)
Well, I was stationed in, Germany, and she was in Germany, too, so that’s how we met
And we found out she’s from, from North Carolina, so that’s the reason I spent lot of the time here, in Fort Bragg
And then after we retired, we decided to stay here, and the, and the, and the first thing was, to stay here for a couple of months, and then move to Puerto Rico, where I have the house, (bugs?), we (kept the plants?), and we stayed, and, ah, ah, I’m glad, that that happened, because right now I am very involved with the community and, ah, and I’m glad, that, so
So, when you, when you were (in the military?) (Sounds of something moving over the table), in what, places were, were you, you said you were in overseas, Germany, what else?
Well, we was five, ah, different, activities that we went to, Kosovo, at Panama, and Granada, Germany again, you know, and all the, the different places in the world
So you, you were in Granada? (inaudible)
I were in Granada, ah, Panama, and, ah, again in different order
Of conflict that we were involved
Ok. Ok, so, so, so that was from 1970 to ninety, 2000
1970 to 2000
Yeah? A, a, and then, you have the chances of, of, of, in terms of education, you finish your high school…?
Yes, I finished my high school, and I have soon, ah, college, yes
And you did that after you left military?
Well, I was doing that during the, my time, free time that I have during the, in the army, so I took some courses
College courses, so
Ok. So, so, ok, why don’t we try to think in terms of, of, of connect the history to what you are doing now, here, so, then you wife was from North Carolina. (phone rings) From what part?
My wife is from here, from, from (several noises, the man gets the phone, turns it off) There
Go on, I’m sorry (inaudible) Snowhill, but I call back then (laughter) I’m sorry about that
So how did you ended up, how did you end up in this part of, of the state?
Well, my wife is from, Goldsboro
In the (Darley?) area
So we decided to stay the month from July 2000 to August. That was the plan, to stay here for, and then fly back to Puerto Rico. But, I met Gaspar San, I mean, Gaspar Gonzalez, mister Gonzalez was in, very involved in the, in the Hispanic community, and we met, and we discussed on issues around, was going on here with the community, so I decided to stay.
Mjm. So that was your main motivation
That was my main motivation, ah, I met a couple of families, they were in need, and when we, I asked questions about how, why they can’t get the, they cannot get the services, of the services they were looking for. So that’s what I get involved in, in, in the community.
Ok. Now, this was right after hurricane Floyd and flood and all that, wasn’t it?
So were you involved in all of that?
No, I just get, ah, get peered in July, July 2000, (abrid?), it was before
About it, about it
About a year
or so, before that, yes
‘Cause we understood that a lot of, there were a lot of problems with trying to
Get services, and, (it can just?) just basic water and food and stuff after the flood to, to the latino population
Right. Ah, the main thing is when, when I started getting involved with the community, I, I felt the need, in someone to, example, to try to get the information, and, and, and set the, set their, their direction the way was supposed to go; establish good communication in different agencies that, that’s were, that, that’s what we’re doing right now, we’re having good communication with different agencies, every time we’re going there now, they open the doors so we now have no really big issues right now, in this county, in Wayne County, where I’m working with
And what issues, for example (inaudible)?
Well, at the beginning, when I start dealing with the Hispanic, ah, population, number one, health, we have some issues in health, that, they try to get into the clinics, and because of the, ah, situation that they are, ah, they cannot receive the proper care for, for the , for, for the families, so we try to get involved with the communities, having meetings with the agencies, so now the agencies are coming, I, I, we organize our center here in Darley, so they come to the center and they provide those services for free to the, to the, different, families around the, the, their, their area, here in Darley.
Also we went to see the Red Cross, they opened the door for us, now is more easy for the people that if you have, an accident, or you have the house that’s being burned, so we go in there and they provide a go, a good service for us so we, we no have any more complaints about that, in the same way with the (damned?) clinics, and all the, all the different agencies
So, so you were able to make this, establish this relationships with the
We have established a good relationship with those, agencies that we spoke before. And, again, right now, here in Wayn, Wayne County, we now have two more sh, issues and problems with the community, the Hispanic community that what we have before. Ah, ah, right now we are working very hard with the sheriff department, sheriff Winders is a great person that right now we are, one of the Counties that we’re having nom, too much problems with the, with the sheriff department, and the how they patrol
And you do not have
No, we don’t have
too many, because of the rela, relationship that we have established, and, the main thing that we, we are doing right now, we are inviting those, ah, different leaders of the agencies lice the sheriff Winders to come to different areas of the community, I can, I can talk to the people, we can answer questions, so we can, ah, have a very understanding of the, of the law, and then that’s what we try to communicate to the, to the community, what is the law, what the law say, you need to obey the law, and respect those, ah, in uniform, and that’s the reason why we no have too much problems in this county
So do you have, ah, people to come to talk to the community, to tell them about this thing?
We have, again, we have some, some, ah, personnel from the sheriff department, and the, and from the how they patrol they come to different, right now we are visiting different, churches, where ma, the majority of the, of the members are Hispanics, so we’re going there and try to talk to them, and bring some information. Right now the same way what we are doing from, from, some of the immigration issues that we have, so we are bringing now a, a lawyer from immigration, from the (dinner?) law, to go out and talk to the people, and answer, ah, answer, answer questions.
Yeah. How do you manage with the all of that given that you work? You work, right? You have this, a job?
Well, ah, the main thing is that, (without?) my recommendation, I always say that to be a leader of, of the community, you need to work a seven, 24/7, you know, yo, you need, you know?, I, I met some people tell me well, I can help you out from, from 8 to 5, so to me, ah, you know? I’ve been, I have received calls 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning, that I need to get up from the, from my bed, I go to, to see the (main street?), I talk to him, and try to release the guy, or try to help the much that I can, and, and that’s the leader, you know? We need to have leaders that, you know? First of all, if the people that we need to care, because you don’t know, you cannot be involved with the community, and then 5 o’clock you need to (snap)
You know, quit and go home, that’s, that’s, to me that’s not a leader, you know, that’s, that’s not, that’s not a leader
You know, that’s what I do. Saturdays and Sundays I’m being, ah, working on, ah, after 5 o’clock I go, I meet some of the people, visit some of the families. Sundays, ah, I go to different churches, with mister Gaspar Gonzalez, Gonzalez, and we ca, we go out and talk to the community, try to maintain them inform, of what’s going on, you know? An, an, and right now we’re doing, to me we’re doing a great job because, ah, we have less problems in this community, ah, re, related to the, to the Hispanic population than what we had before, so we have, we have, we’re doing a good job on that area.
So mostly your work is right around, ah, Wayne County?
(inaudible) working, ‘cause, cause right near here, of course, is Duplin County, which is also a huge
Well, that’s, that’s one of the things that we need to, (talk?) up to Gaspar, so we need to concentrate on Wayne County, but we also receive phone calls from, what to say, Duplin, Johnston, Way, ah, Wayne, ah, Lenoir County, so we need to try to go on and help the much that we can. We want, to, ah, develop new leadership, in specific the young, youth guys, that, that are bilinguals. I need to go out, and, and, and, you know, try to help the much that I can, cause that is going to be the difference between now and what’s gonna happen in five, six years down the road, so I need everybody to get involved, you know?
And are there youth people in, youth involved in any ways now, with your organization?
Well, we have, we have, we have youth, ah persons that they have their own, their own problems
Because, oh, what I told, ah, ah, Gaspar, and all the leaders in the, in the communities, we need to then, we need to let them, develop the leadership, you know? Because sometimes they have an ideas, let them develop those ideas, let them start, the programs and let’s see wa, what’s gonna happen, but that’s the only way we can do it, let them, let them, develop their own leadership
Mjm, but, you said, that is it a group already, (inaudible)?
Is it, is, it’s a group
It’s a group we have, they call it the Youth Counsel, ah, it is involved with the, with the city, city hall counsel, that’s the major keen, and, miss LaTerrie Ward, she is the community affair director, they develop that, that group, that we, I introduced some of the Hispanic, ah, y-young pe, pe, persons, they’re going there to that group and, and, and establish communications
and relationships with them
And when they come back to the, to our organization, they, ah, bring us an ideas abou, how abou, about how are we gonna help the, the youth in our
So there’s, so there’s some Latinos that have joined the Youth Council
Right, yes, yes
A, a, and this, this Latinos, this youth, they meet with you, ah, as, as the Hispanic Development Center to…?
Yeah, they, they, they get with me and then, example of this, right now, some of the youth are the ones are doing, giving the, the, ah, ISL classes, the English classes
At the center, so we have English classes, we established that program, that we have, English classes, at some of the, some of the youth that are in high schools, or they are g, just graduated from high schools, they are the ones that volunteer to, to help, that’s, that’s one of the thing, things that we do right now, they are trying to go and, and, and help the other, ah, ah, ah, people in the community.
That’s very interesting. There’s, there are youth groups that are trying to, or there are some organizations that are trying to develop youth groups
Ah, here, ah, we, ah, we are working with some of them, mjm
Well, some, ah, some of the, the things that I want to recommend is you need to let them develop their own
Their own ideas, because sometimes I, I, I’m being, ah, going to different agencies, or different, ah, organizations, that they have youth, and they use for some (sinelsis?), so when
When they try to develop ideas, and they try to develop programs, they say “well, you know, ah, (all long?) for a little while, let’s see what we can do”
And then that sometimes discourage them to participate
You know? You let them run the program and see how hard it is to run a program, and, and, and let them develop their leadership
‘Cause that’s hard to telling, it l, it l, it looks easy, but it’s not
You know? When they get involved, then they come to us for advice, ah, Willy, what of this, what about that, I say I told you so
So let’s go get an, ah, you know, because that’s part of the learning, a learning experience
And I try to telling, you need to go over here, and sometimes we have, ah, to go to the, mm, PTA’s that we are organizing, so we need to go to different schools
And they have PTA’s, Spanish PTA’s that we no had before, so it is another, ah, goal, and another, ah, that we established, so we went to each school now, and myself, Gaspar, and now we have youth that go out and talk to the parents and, and their teachers about how, how are we gonna help the schools, that’s what we established
We were, ah, talking with a person in Johnston County, at the school system (Blair?) about having a latino kind of contest, business contest, so that they would develop a business plan, or something like that, and we were thinking of providing them some, having a workshop, to provide them with a little training upon how to put together a business plan, and then have them take the initiative to go ahead and develop, and then we would, at the end of the thing we would have a little award ceremony. Do you think that would go over here, too?
I believe so, we have, we have, uh, we have established a good communication with mister an, Adeucio Lugo, Adeucio Lugo is the, is in Greenville, he’s the self help (cred?) union, that helped develop businesses, in the latino community
So sometimes we bring him to talk to different, uh
(inaudible) establish some of those programs (inaudible)
And he’s in Greenville, no?
He’s in Greenville, yes sir
In (ohem?), (inaudible)
I, I think I met him before, yeah, aha.
He’s a great person, and he likes to come and talk to the people
And sometimes we take people to the, to the, ah, center, and he come and he talk to them about how to establish a, a, a business, and how to get help to initiate those, business
Because your plan is willing to work with youth, mostly, right? Mostly youth, yeah, we
We are also, you know, we have some we, well developed, trained develop latino, ah, entrepreneurship
So we have some web pages materials for adults, and for business, for (variety?) and business, so they
Can access some of their, ‘cause they don’t, often don’t have time for classes, they’re too busy
So we thought, but we thought when we can work with youth, and in fact partly, (would?) the last time we met with you and Gaspar (inaudible)
You would mention the importance of kind of mixing civic, you know, engagement with business ownership and stuff like that, and, and getting
Involved right away and s
And we, I, I talked with my colleagues at California, who were also with me at this project
and they thought it is a wonderful idea
We really need to, yeah
We really need to the, the workshops that include parents and youth together, yeah?
And then maybe have some speakers coming like you and
And guess part of it. But I, I’ll just send you a brief proposal on what were I thinking about
‘cause I think we (are looking at it?), maybe we have some of this, ah, “talleres”, in like October
Yeah, I’ll be, I’ll be glad to help on that
Ok. So, when you come 2000 here, ah, did you get a job, ah, how did that part work out?
Well, yes, I get a job in here with the cage farms, it was a chicken processing plant
And I was working about the HR, ah, I say HR manager for ten years
And that, when I met most of the, needs in the community, they get the, they get the opportunity to me (a lot?) of, agencies, leaders and civic leaders, and then that’s when I get more involved with the, with the Hispanic community, had to break the ice, you know?, the misunderstanding about Hispanic population this, because they always have, we always have, miscommunication, misunderstandings, and that’s what we try to, try to, ah, accomplish
Mjm. And how was that job? What kinds of things did you have to do as part of that job? (inaudible)
That, wa, I, what we, what we tried to, I, I tried to do is try to, ah, talk to the people, you know, higher people, disciplined, and that’s, they give me the opportunity to speak to more, more people, because we have, I like to give orientation, and that’s how I get, get involved more and more in the community.
Orientations about the company?
Sometimes when I have the opportunity, I say, we ca, we have this orientation about the company or whatever, I try to introduce something about the community, how, how you can get involved with the community, the needs that we have in the community, because of that, we have established some programs at the center. Number one, we call it “El Beso” program, it’s the book bags
For students, needed students, we call it “El Beso” program. In that program, what we, what we do is we collect, ah, school supplies and book bags for, for needed childrens. Those book bags go directly to the schools, and we are giving to the, ah, ah, social workers at the schools, where they have a list. That is how we try to get Hispanic community involved in the community.
You know? Ah, we don’t want to know who receives the bags, what color or what race, because
Because it’s from us, from the Hispanic community to the schools, and the school system. We also established the, ah, thanksgiving baskets, that we helped 75 families last year, that came from that, orientation that we give in cage farms, ah, we saw the need of the families during the holidays, so we established that program where, ah, employees from cage farms, you know?, they receive a turkey during the holidays and the, the, the, the employees that no, that no want the, the turkey, they donate it to the center
And we pull together a ba, basket, and we give it to the needed families of the community. Again, we don’t want no, we’re don’t look for color, race or whatever, (let’s go for nozzle?), we show that we care for the community
Before than we started was concentrating most on the Hispanic side of the house, but now we saw that there are in nee, there are needs in the community, so to show, ah, the community that all of the Hispanics, Latinos, we care for the community, we include in everybody
So that’s, that, that’s the way that we are braking the ice, and that’s the way wa, wherever I go with mister Gonzalez, we don’t have no problems, we, we can go to anywhere in the c, in the, in the, in the county, the city hall, the, the c, the, the commi, commissioners, or whoever I can (see share?) departments, or we no, help departments, we no have no, no really issues
Because we have established that communication, and the main thing is they see that we are for real, this is a serious situation.
Right now, example, right now we are working with the HIV testing. We are doing that at the center, because we saw that that is one of the things that we are lack of information in the c, in the Hispanic community, so they ol, you know how it is, they’re always talking about where are the Hispanics, or (inaudible) ok, we’re gonna establish something that is ok, we’re looking for, to try to solve the problem in the community, and established that program at the center.
A, and in that program, for example, you only reach out to the Hispanics, or there are other people?
No, we, we, we, we reach to everybody in the community, because that’s one of the things that we try to do, as part of the breaking the ice: we show the community that we are care, we’re caring for the community, so we’re open to everybody, so they see the Hispanic Community Development Center is doing. HIV testing for everybody, to try to help with the situation that, that we are g, what’s going on right now on North Carolina, not only in Wayne County, but on the hoke, on the whole state, so we try to help in that, in that area, too.
So, for example, regarding the HIV testing, how do you to let not Hispanics note you can also serve them, giving of the name of the organization of Hispanic Develop, Development Center
Yeah, we, we have, we have a good communication with the ECU, Dr. Larson, Kim Larson, she is a professor at the nurse
We, we know Kim
And he is our, she’s one of our, ah, advisors at the center
And she’s the one, ah, dealing with the, ah, because of her background, she’s our, our communicator to the not Hispanics
in the, in the county
Ah, ok, ok. So, for example, she, what kinds of things does she do for the organization?
She, she, she provides advice on how to reach those, those programs, that, that, thinking to her, we, we ha, we reach the HIV testing
Program, so she, she helped bring the program to the, the center
So that’s one of the things that we, we thank her, thank her for that. Also, we have established some, ah, clinics, health clinics at the center because of her, her background, she brings on the nurses from the ECU, their students, so they can help us on that, in that, area, so she’s being very helpful on that.
That’s wonderful. Going back a little bit on your work at the chicken company, how does that experience in that company helped you in your work that you are doing now in the community?
Well, they helped me a lot, because they give me the opportunity to, to, uh, search, search, ah, ah, about the problems that we have in the community
They give me the opportunity go out once I was in there, and I, I supposed to represent the company in different, ah, ah, workshops, different ah, ah, type of, we call it “charlas”.
“Talleres”, and, ah, we find out, ‘cause, you, they knew I was Puerto Rican, but they, they don’t, they, they, they don’t know that I was working with the community already
Know I wasn’t engaged in full force in that, but I was engaged a little bit, so once I was going to all those, ah, “talleres”, you know, I learned more and more of the needs, of the, of the, ah, of the community, of the Hispanic community in the area, so that’s when I, I said well, I need to do something and that’s when I get involved in full, in that.
(noises, inaudible) have contact with the company, do, do they support you on your activities?
Sí, they always support me, and support to me, ah, you know, I was working in night shift, that’s the reason I decided to, well, I need to (have?) a change
Another job, because, you know, I was working maybe 20 hours a day, you know, working night shift from, ah, 11 o’clock in night, to 7:40 in the morning, 7:40 I change hats, and then I go to the center, I go to different, they buy me to speak in different, ah, agencies, or different “talleres”, so I need to go change clothes, go to that, maybe 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I’m in s, still out, talking to people
So when do you sleep? (still laughing)
Well, ah, that was probably was my (chuckles), my, the US army give me that training, so
Ah, the less sleep that I get, you know. But, ah, you know, again, you know, to be a leader and, and, and reach the people, you cannot set the time from
From 8 to 5, because that’s not going to work. You need to go out, you know, like, and my reward, you know, I don’t get paid for this. What I do is for free, you know? And the reward you get is when you go to different areas of the community, they see you, and they shake hands, and they give you hugs, and they give (chuckles) you, you know? and you feel good about that
Because you are doing something. Everywhere you go in the community, somebody’s gonna recognize you, you know? And, and you know, you, I, I’m not doing this for recognition, because that’s, I don’t, I don’t care about that. I’ll, I like to see the satisfaction that we’re gonna give to the, to the families when they’re coming, I hear to the area, the first thing I got is I got receive a phone call, either myself or Gaspar get a phone call, so I need to, you know. Welcome committee (laughter), to the community
You know? And than, that’s, that’s, that’s what I like to do. I love that, you know? But again, and, and, and this, to the leaders, I would believe that you need to be a sincere, sincere leader, you know? some people have professions, some people, I know there are doctors, and there are engineers, or lawyers, and one is professor, whatever, but you need to, you need to sometimes come to the same level that the, the people is, that’s the, that’s the way I like, I like to go, you know, to the same level that they are, because if you expect, if I expect the people to come to my level, they’ll never come to you
You know? That’s the reason that I live as we are, myself and Gaspar, we’ve gone to whatever, trailer parks, and we’re going to the same level, you know?, we work, we try to fix trailers, we try to fix the air conditioners, do you know what I mean? But, ah, we sweat with them, are we doing this, are we doing that, and that’s the way it is, you gain the respect of the people. Because the main thing is you need to get the respect of the people, and the trust of the people. Because you can bring the best program in the world, but if the people no trust you, they no come to you. If the, if they no trust you, they don’t come to you. So you need to gain the trust, the way to come to you, you try to give a 100%. I know it’s sometimes hard to get an answer, or try to get a circus, but at least you got an extra mile to say well. Sometimes to (tonk?) you need to sit down there, go to the health, health department. I go to the help department, sit down there, well, Mr. Roosen no have no time now, he can be busy for an hour or two, sit in there, in nowhere valley, wait, wait, wait, when the chance is coming, go in there and say “ok, this is the deal”, you know? One of the things that I like to do, I like to be myself, you know? I don’t like to be, be yourself, you know? I say “I’m here, this is the problem, we try to fix the problem, and this is, ah, what we recommend. So how are you gonna help me?” But before I say that, I say “I’m here to help too, so how may I help?” And that sometimes the, mister Roosen he’s, he’s the director of the health department, in Wayne County, he says “you know what?, the community is looking more better than few years ago”, and it’s not because me, it’s because people start trusting him more and more and more. Now we have a, a watch program, It’s a truck that comes to the different locations of the community, and now they have come to different areas where are more of, most of the, of the residents are Hispanics, so there are often that for them, too
This is the neighborhood watch?
It’s the neighborhood watch, so they coming too, so
Yeah. We established a pro, a good, communication with the Baptist churching (caring?), they have a dental bus that comes to the center, and they provide those services. We know t, I know we need to pay for those services, but at least they bring the dental clinic to the center. We pay 200 dollars for the, for the bus to come to the, to the center, we provide the, the dentist, the assistant, to provide those services, and that’s one of the reasons why, right now we are doing much better, in that area in the community, because we have established a good communication with the health department, mister Rooser, the director. Then, when we need the dentist, yes, you can have one, they come. So before was a little bit different, because, well, we no have no time, or we, different excuses, but when you show that you care, and when you show that you are serious about what you try to do, then you (may?) resolves our differences
Because they say “ok, yes, the people are here for, for a reason, they are here because they want to do something”
And that’s what we are doing
You told me the other day about, a little bit about the history of the organization. Ah, could you say something about that, when you created it, and, and, and when you moved from one place to the other, how was that?
Well, it was, it was, first of all, we, we wasn’t thinking about all the organization, because it was myself, ma, Gaspar Gonzalez and myself, that most of the people are trust, and get in contact with. So what happened was we was going to the schools to give, ah, “charlas” to the PTA’s, and then, ah, Gaspar said “well, we need some more help, because me, myself and you, we’re getting burned out”, so, I said “well, let’s gonna start an organization”. So that’s the way we started. I remember, ah, we have the family, that I wanna say no names
But we have the family they call us, they say, ah, they call me “Willy, we need, we need some help about translate at the court, court house”, I say “ok, I’ll be there”, so I get off from work, that’s what I went to court house, we spent there almost all day, after the, after that, the result was good for them, so they told me, ah, they got a store, they told me “well, let’s drive back to the store and, we give you a soda”. So I went to the store and get, you know, give me a soda, that was my pay (chuckles)
(chuckles) for the whole day of a court (inaudible, chuckles). Ah, I enjoyed that. And then, ah, we was talking about probably organizing a, an organization, and having a place where the people can come, because the people that come to the house, and you know, knocking the door, (we?), and it is ok. So we decided to have a location, but in fact they have a small building behind, or beside the, beside the store, but, while you are talking about the hurricane
It was half full of mud
And we wasn’t aware of that, so I called Gaspar, and I said “Gaspar, (slap) there you have, we go, we have a loca, ah, building, it’s not too big, but that’s, it’s gonna be a worth beginning”. He said “well, where you are?” That’s, I to, I told him where I was, and then he came. He said ¡Wow! (rubbing his hands together)
He looked at the building, (about?) this big. Right here, about this big. So, the guy say, “well, I need to find the keys, because I believe it is lost”. I say ok, so he, he came, er, he brought, the (crobar?), and he opened the (chuckles), the door
And man, when he opened the door, all the mud (slay?) at me, it wasn’t me
I say oh, lord, Gaspar! What are we gonna do? (chuckles) So the, it was, it was good, because it was concrete blocks, you know? So, man, it was stink everything was in there! So we started cleaning. And that’s what I was doing in cage farms, so I asked for some volunteers. And, men! We had about ten of those volunteers that came with showers and, clean the house, clean, clean, we took about three days to clean the mess
So we, the first organization that we contacted was the fire department. So they say “well, it is an emergency, or what? I say, I went over there, I say “no, this is what, what is going on, we try to establish this organization, and the building that we are, we have right now is no really in condition, so I need you to go over there with a truck and try to (chuckles) spray (laughter), spray down the t”. Then he says “well, I never heard that before, this is the first time that that happens”
I say “well, we need some help, how you, how are you gonna help?” He says “well, let me tell you what: we can use an acid (raining?)
I say “ok, ok” (laughter), so that’s the way we cleaned the building, so we were using acid raining. So let’s say, you have light a fire, and you’re going (chuckles) there with the new guys and shhh, and spray the, ah
So that’s the way we cleaned, so they came with the (hosts?) and shhh, so we have a (training?) (laughter)
So, we cleaned that, and then we started, we, we built two offices, we have a nice floor, with the, ah, we put some kind of a, a (bainium?)
In there, Gaspar donated a window, because we needed to have a window, so (chuckles). As soon as we finished, the guy came, and says “the building looks very nice, thank you so much for taking care of the building, but you need to move”
Adds! You know, it was hard, it was hard and I say “wow, why?” So, Gaspar started getting upset, and I started getting upset. But I say, “Gaspar, you know what, me it’s ok. No worry about it, let’s move on. Let’s move on. So we finished and, and, ah, we put some of the money, our money to build the offices, and he was talking about, we need to ta, take care of those guys, I say no worry about it, because it’s going to be (soon in better somewhere?), than we are looking for. So that was the beginning (chuckles). So, I was driving around my area, and it was an old store, a Mexican old store that the owner told me “Willy, I don’t recommend you to come to this area, because it’s a lot of bad guys and every, every week we have somebody robbed that store, so”. I say “I don’t want, I don’t want to have a store; I want to have a center”, I started talk to him, and he says “yes, I give it to you”. But beside it was another room that have a pool table, a pool table and, machines, to the people, pinball machines, I say “I don’t want that in there, because most of the people comes to smoke and drink, I don’t like that, that’s not my goal”. So we went back and forth, back and forth, until I convinced the guy.
I say “Gaspar, how we can fix this problem?”, so (chuckles) he says “well, if he keep the, the, pool table in there, we won’t try to rent (chuckles), because it is our building” (laughter).
So that’s we talked to him, so he’s decided to move, remove the, that’s what, they removed the, ah, the pinball machines and the pool table. That’s where we put the, ah, sc, classroom, that we have right now.
Mjm, mjm, yeah
Ah, ah, one day I was at the center, and this guy passed by, and he asked me “what, are you gonna open the store?”, I say “no, we’re not going to open the store, we’re gonna have the center, we’re gonna have the communities, so what are you gonna do?”, he was an American guy, and I say “we wanna bring, ah, health clinics, ah, dental clinics, we’re gonna have schools, we’re gonna have, we’re gonna have the children with after school programs”, he said “so what are you gonna do? This is an open bay?” I say “we’re gonna have two offices”, so he asked me “how do you want the offices?”, I say “I want this, this, this, what ten by ten, and a door here, and that”. That guy, mister (Cornelie?), told me “I’ll be back”. Ah, Gaspar came in, and then I told him what happened, I said, I said “a guy named (Cornelie?), he said, told me to wait here”, he said “Willy, that guy is not coming back”. I say “I got the feeling yes, because he asked me a couple of questions”, he say “ok”. So about 20 minutes later, this guy came with a trailer full of (sheer?) rocks
2 by 4 (laughter), you know? and he downloaded that stuff
So he says “tomorrow I’m gonna send my carpenters”
“To build your offices”. So tha, that’s how we started. So there, the guys came the next day, they built the offices, then he donated the to, the doors and everything, everything was donated. I was in there, one day, at the center, when I received a call from the, ah, air force base, Seymour Johnson air force base. They told me “we have, ah, fourteen computers, or sixteen computers, and we need to do some with the computers because we need to upgrade it every, so often need to be upgraded, so” I say “how much are you gonna, how much is it gonna be”, he says (chuckles) “free”
So (clap) I called a friend of mine that have a truck, and there we go. We went, we pick up, ah, the keyboards, and e, and the, computers, and then we, ah, Miss Kim Larson helped to have this, ah, a grant, a grant from the (hip?) program to es, to buy a desk for the computers, so we, we have now fourteen computers ready to be used for the community. We have, ah, internet
Oh, there’s internet?
Internet and everything ready, so we are disclosing now, try to bring the comuni, co, comuni, “plaza comunitaria”
It is an interesting thing
“Plaza comunitaria”, the “plaza comunitaria” is a pro, is a program that
With the consulate, right?
With the Mexican consul that where you have from zero to twelve grades, you can use the computer to obtain your, uh, the aik, ah, the equivalent of high school diploma
And also you can use it for the, ah, for the, ah, GD. Also we, we’re gonna use it for, at now we’re gonna, now the center’s being used by the census
To take, to try to reach everybody, and count everybody, so we donate that center for them to use it, so they’re going to finish at the middle of, of august, dating September the seven, that’s when we’re gonna start again with the ISL classes, computer classes, and then we’re gonna focus more now on the, on the citizenship test, that we need to use the internet for that, so that’s the way we started. And the main thing about this is nobody is getting paid for this
Everybody works for free, so
Could we use that center for one of this “talleres” that we are talking about?
Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s the reason they, they, it is there
So it has facilities and stuff, too
We have the computers, we have telephones
Have, have people used the computers to communicate back to Mexico?
Well, we s, we s, we established a, a, you can use it, yes, but you need to file some forms to ensure that then, you know, the communication are the, you know, used properly
Do they have cameras?
Ah, no, but we can, can work some now, and try to get some like that, so we can communicate
A, and the people who go to that, to the center, you mentioned that there are a number of trailer parks, near
Yes. Most, most of the people we have about six to seven trailer parks, ah, in, in the area, so that’s the reason why we moved in that area (throat-clearing). Because, ah, you know, we want to be where the need is
You know what I mean? Sometimes, you know, like, I met with the major King of Goldsboro, he told me we have some buildings down, downtown that you can rent for a dollar, and then you can, we can fix it, but (what he?) know, because the, the need is over there
It’s not over here, the people don’t wanna come downtown
Mm. And those people who live in those trailer parks, where do they come from?
The, we have from all over the place, we have people from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, it’s a m, it’s a mix, you know? Central America, Mexico, some people from South America
And the Mexican, they come from different states, or?
Dif, dif, different states, everybody comes from different states, that’s the, that is why this is very unique that, you know? One of the things I want to talk to the leader is you cannot look for your group, you cannot have your own group, you know? You’re gonna have the, for example the Mexican looking for the Mexican, the Guatemalan looking for the Guatemalan. I disagree on that. That’s the reason why sometimes I try don’t participate in, in, in other organizations, because I say “no, this is Hispanics, Latinos, we no say nothing about any other, you know, from El Salvador, or Guatemala, no, no, no, no, this is for everybody, so everybody needs to be in the same, in the same boat”, com, what I say, you know? Because I don’t want nobody be better than nobody. That’s one of the things that we try to teach, nobody is better than nobody. No group is better than this group. Everybody is Latino, because when you have a problem downtown, or whatever, the newspaper say “Latinos”, they don’t say, you know. No, we need to try to brake that
One of the things I’m looking forward, and I talked to Gaspar about 2, 3 days ago, we need to have, some kind of organization here, in North Carolina, that we can have something that say “ok, we want to have one leader”, ok who’s gonna be that leader that can push us, or move us to the right direction? You know what I mean? Right now we have some issues looking what happened in Arizona
You know what I mean? So we need to be prepared to say, we’re gonna have an organization to show ok, those people are for s, for, for real, you know?
People that can go to vote, or people that can say “ok, you, you have people, youth, I’ll be teaching them, you need to vote, register for vote”
Because one, two, three, four, five, and then you may have ten, maybe twenty, that’s gonna be the difference
Because when you, myself and Gaspar going, we are only two
We need to have twenty or forty or fifty people, that’s the push for the same thing
A, are you connected with any organization in the state, ah, ah, other organizations?
Yeah, we, we, we, well, most of the people call us to see how we are doing, the things that we are doing. We know budget, because ri, we only thing that we do is getting, you know, nothing, we don’t get any grants from the states or federal go, that’s what we are looking right now to see how we can do it, do to. And the reason what I say that now is because the services are getting, and more people are coming, and more services we need to provide and sometimes I need to pay myself and Gaspar for, for the services. But now we are looking for a, for a grant, to have those, ah, accomplish that. We (add us?) getting paid, because we don’t want no to getting paid.
And are you looking for one, ah?
I’m looking for a thousand. I say ok, we wanna have the money that we spend in paying for electricity, or the phone bill, or something like that
We can use it for some (sinels?), try to bring programs, more food for the center, more book bags for the little children, you know. Sometimes we want to do more, right now we have 300 book bags, they’re going to six different schools
And we want to cover the whole county. I’m talking, I’m talking about elementary schools, and, ah, sometimes the money that we have for that is going to (cover?), ah, electricity bill, or phone bill, that come from out packets. And we want to have, ah, my wife timing pool by the center, sometimes she pool forty, fifty hours in there, you know, we want to have somebody that can run the center, and at least get reward for that
And, and, and how would you go about, ah, a plan for some funding
Well, right now, we, we made the decision not to apply for no funding. Because, you know, we no want to, hum, create any, anybody in pression in the community. Well, ok, the, listen, they’re getting the money, and do na, they’re not doing nothing. Right now we aren’t showing that well we are doing is, is, is there
We showing that we, we, we have, ah, the book bags program, the, ah, the, ah, thanksgiving baskets
The clinics, and all that program come from volun, eh,
Donations and volunteers. So nothing coming from, ah, grants, to prevent problems. Nobody gets paid at the center. Everybody’s working for free
We have, meetings every, the second Sunday and sa, second Sunday of the morning, second Saturday of the month, is our meeting, so, if you have an ideas you can come, you know. We, uh, we have, uh, a open community, ah, so you can come and give us ideas on how we can
So, so your next meeting will be on au, august, the 10?
Se, some like that, I believe so, yeah, let me check my calendar
I believe I’m gonna be out, something, Mexico, in Mexico, in a conference
I’m gonna be in Mexico
To, to raise funds we have also September 25th, this year, we’re gonna have the, the, ah, the banquet. The banquet, what we do, we recognize those agencies and individuos that help us during the year, you know? people that donate, you know, ah, we say thank you giving a small appreciation award, thank you, and then we, a, at the beginning, ah, the meal was free, and somebody came with the idea from the, from the, ah, city hall, say “Willy, I believe you can, you can charge 20 dollars for the meal, so that money go to, to help the center”, I say “well, ok”. So that’s what we are doing now, we
We are charging 20 dollars for the meal. We have a Hispanic meal, that can come, and then we have a guest speaker, they can come and talk, and talk a little bit about the Hispanic, ah, community, and what we are, the contribution that we are doing to the community.
And that’s a, that’s a Saturday?
Saturday September 25th, this year
At what time?
From six to nine o’clock
Ok. Now, ah, the origin in the state, there are some, ah, networks of organizations like collaborative stuff
Bring together different brasses of organizations. Do you belong to any?
We have, we have, we talk to them, like El Pueblo
You know, or Change Latino. We talk, sometimes they call me “Willy, about this”, ah, but the main thing right now, they are asking for advice, what about this, what about that (chuckles)
So I give them “yes, I believe, I believe this is good for the community”, “no, I don’t believe, this is not good for the, for the community”. And, ah, now the, ah, now we went over there to the, ah ECU for that meeting, that was great. So we met some more people, now we are helping the “Mujeres sin Fronteras”
And because of that meeting, ah, we talked to this, to mister, ah, Richard (Diner?), he donated two houses for needed families who (there are?) in Kingston, so
Ah! So just more than one? I told you about Guillermina getting the house
They, they go, so we watched
That’s the one?
I talked to him, and, ah, he
Tell me about him!
(laughter) so I don’t wanna (chuckles) talk about it, so that’s the way you get involved, see that? I d, I d, I was invited to go to Kingston to talk a little bit about the center, working with the, working with mister, mister Richard (Diner?), so he said me over there, say “you’re gonna be the representative of the community, I want you, we want to help the community, so give me your ideas”. So I went to the meeting (chuckles), and we found out that they are in need
And when was that?
Ah, we had a meeting about, what was that, what? A month ago?
And I was supposed to have another meeting, coming up in august, the second, I believe. So now, the, we bring in everybody to (get?) that area, you know, Kingston, so we are working together with them, and mister Jimbo Perry to donate two houses for the needed families, so that’s, when I talked to him and, and told him, ah, this is how you can put above other, you know, in the communities, because you care, you know? and that’s, that’s when he told me “whatever you want for the community”, so that’s what I do (chuckles)
So I go and talk and, ah
Who, where did they get the house?
There was some houses that were, ah, people cannot, ah, pay no more, and they repossess the houses
Oh, I see
And then say “ok, we wanna help”, and he say “well, I donate the houses”, that’s when it was, right now we are looking for some contractor, and probably have a meeting tomorrow, for the guy that built the offices over here, to see if can go over there and give us ideas on how to fix the houses, and all that stuff.
So did you talk directly with this lady in, in, in, s, “Mujeres sin Fronteras”?
Yes, we, we, we had a meeting, and, we had a meeting in Kingston, as a matter of fact, and the, they came, and, I ne, I recognized her because I met her at the meeting in, in, in ECU, so that’s the, that’s the way we’re supposed to do business, you know? We have a meeting, we recognize the need of the, of the community, and because of that now we have two happily, happy families, because they’re gonna have their own houses (snap)
Yes, because of that, so that’s what we need to do, you know? uh, and we are (recomish?) because nobody knew that we was doing that, so, you know
And, where (sounds of something sliding over the table; inaudible) remember?
Ah, ah, I don’t know, we have a meeting on, August the second
And because that, (let’s see?)
And that meeting will be a meeting between you and, and, and the family?
They try, they try, they try to organize
The mai, like, an organization
So they bring me in there, so I can give an idea. “(Would you care?) an ideas?” “No, I don’t like that”. So, you know, that’s what I try to tell you, that when people respect you, what you are doing, they always call you for opinion, and you see down there, and you don’t know the people in there, but they ask you for advice. And that’s very, very, I feel good, because they can call you for all over the state. Greenville, Ashville, you know, I say “Willy, is this ok?”, “Willy, you?”, I answer “¡yes!”(chuckles), you need to sit down, and talk to them, “give me your opinion about this and that”. And when that, when we started, I was talking about Goldsboro, see? Darley, Goldsboro, now we went to Greenville, now we keep going, keep going, keep going (chuckles) now, we are all over the state (snap). Ah, you know? And I feel good because you try to help, you know? And, and, and I feel great about that.
That’s really a wonderful thing that you, what you’ve done, because yesterday I, I have a student who’s working this (email?)
And she mentioned, she said “you know, I just found that this lady got a house (chuckles) from, and a new house, and now we are surprised all this was through your, you know? (laughter)
But it well (laughter), it is, is, is like, you know? We no, I don’t like to get rec, you know,
Recognition is not, just to see those people happy, that’s the only way, you know, you feel good inside yourself, you know?
That was an also wonderful, ah, presentation of, of what happens when organizations come together
You know, in their meeting
When you met, and
In a sense, what we are trying to do is also sh, ah, being useful
Right, right. And again, you know, we need to come together and we, we try to focus on one thing at the time, because you, you guys in the organization they have ten, fifteen different projects and, and, and none of them are being successful because of that (snap)
You know? We have a good s, right now we have, again, the book bag program is being a good program for us, and is simple thing, but the people is very appreciative of what they’re doing
In specific the schools
you know? we’re working with the whole school, and our students, and, and you build, you feel good when you go inside the any elementary school, here in Wayne, (Caroline?), the kids come running to you (chuckles)
You try to (laughter), how’ you doing, you know? You look like a politician, hi (laughter)
But, ah, you know, ah
Yes, we, we need to, we need to concentrate, and we need to do, ah, more meetings like what you did over there in ECU, because from there, you know? I met, ah, Mujeres from, Sin Fronteras that, ah, ah, is a great organization
And we (whom?) tried to help them, through Mister Richard (Deran?), ok, say “ok, this is the deal”, you know? I know how we can help you up, so we now we have a lawyer that gonna sit down with them
To say “ok, this is the way, how we can find”
(I’m gonna help them free like an?) (the three of them speak at a time, the voices are indecipherable)
Right. To go to the right, right direction, do you know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah, that’s great
Ah, he’s, because he’s from the (way?) it’s free, you know? You, to establish an organization is not easy
Right. And that’s so important, because they were (struggling?) with that
Right! So, now
(inaudible) to perceive to create an organization
How you can do that
Right, how you can do it, aha, you know? They got the phone, you can call me, and, you know
And that’s the way it’s supposed to be, you know?
Well, no, we’ve taken you the hour that we (has?) you for it, right? But, ah, there are so many things to talk about
Yeah, I understand
Right. What are we gonna do, David (throat-clearing), do you think we should, we should end now, or, it’s an hour
Yeah, it’s a problem, but, we let, of course, like to, I’m gonna, still talk you further about this “talleres”
You know, and I’ll send you a
Yeah, any time
Send you a
A proposal that we are circulating with other groups and
But it’s a, but it provides, it provides funding for speakers, and for organizers
As well as, ah, it provides supplies for the participants
And I think we’d like, you know, someone of near of 30 years old participants, you know, youth, and, and
(It could?) be a mix, but it also provides for refreshment and foods
And stu, and that stuff. And it just would be like a, an afternoon
Not, not a whole day or anything, but, but, ah, I think that this is an ideal situation
To do it in, if we have it at the center, because we can offer those, those, surrounding, trailer parks. And, you know, this is funded by USDA
And so that’s what they’re interested in, it’s a
They’re, they’re interested in rural communities, latino rural communities, so
Yeah, ah, and let’s try to, ah, think about the next meeting of Nuevo South
And, I was wondering if it’s a (inaudible, movement of the tape recorder) website of the Nuevo South, have you visited the website?
No, (I’m not?)
Ok, I’m gonna send you (the news?). Ok? Because on the first page there is a session there we call news
Ok? And news of things are happening, and I would very much like to, ah, ah, say something about what is happening between you work with “Mujeres Sin Fronteras”
Ah, would that be ok?
Yeah, that’s a good thing that I like, because it’s very interesting
Kind of synergy of (chuckles) this coming together
But in order to, to write the right thing, maybe it would be best if you resend me an email
In which you describe what happened, I mean
How you made the connection, so that I, I can put that there, instead of trying to, ah, ah, listen to the interview, so, and maybe you can write
A short email
And say “this is what happened”, and also with what you said there, ah, “and now we, ah, we now have two happy families”, you know that?
That, that’s right
Ok, no problem
All right. Well, I would like to transcribe this, and
Yeah, (if you wanna?)
Then give it to you
And you can read it, and you can
Tell us what you think. OK?
So now I’m on my way to Snowhill? (laughter)
Yeah (several noises, movement of the tape recorder, steps)
Yeah, you know that?
Where, where’s that, the (inaudible)
- (inaudible for several seconds)
I don’t know if I know how to get there
(Would you mind?), go out there?
No, but in fact, why don’t you give us some directions, how to get there?
End of the interview
If you know something about this item or would like to request additional information, click here.
Complete the fields below to post a public comment about the material featured on this page. The email address you submit will not be displayed and would only be used to contact you with additional questions or comments.