Angela Rosas started Chicas Latinas de Sacramento about three years ago to promote the positive aspects of Latino culture and give Latina women a place to go to feel a sense of family and togetherness.
Now at 150 members, Rosas, 28, said it’s grown beyond what she anticipated, and she’s in the process of filing paperwork for making the group a nonprofit organization – which she hopes to send in November.
“Getting nonprofit status is the last big step,” she said. “Then we can start fundraising and really make a difference.”
Rosas is a third-generation Sacramentan, and though she is Latina, she wasn’t brought up to identify that way. Her parents didn’t speak Spanish to her, and they emphasized living an Americanized lifestyle. That, she said, was to get away from identifying as Latinos – something they saw in a negative light.
Growing up in parts of North and South Sacramento, Rosas said the areas were rough, and she thought her culture was something to hide from. To her and her friends, “Latino” meant teen pregnancy, incarceration and gang membership.
It wasn’t until later that she recognized the positive aspects inherent in her culture and decided to do something about it.
Rosas formed the group about three years ago, and she said her initial purpose was to give Latina women a place to go and feel a sense of camaraderie and the ability to celebrate being Latina – something she didn’t have growing up, and something she said she thinks young Latinas will need.
While a sense of family and togetherness was part of the reason she formed the organization, it wasn’t the only one.
“Another reason was I wanted to promote volunteerism in the Latino community,” she said. “I started volunteering when I was in seventh grade, and I love giving back, but I didn’t see a lot of other Latinas volunteering.”
Many of the people she helped in volunteering for organizations such as WEAVE were of Latino descent, and Rosas, who wasn’t brought up speaking Spanish, but is now learning the language, said she saw a need, and she decided to act.
The organization’s volunteers recently visited Sacramento Crisis Nursery North, one of two crisis nurseries operated by the Sacramento Children’s Home. The women spent time with the kids, made lunch and played with a piñata.
Program Manager Barbara Nolan said having seven members of Rosas’ group visit the nursery, which is a safe place for adults to leave children for up to a month with no questions asked, was a “huge benefit.”
“We are a nonprofit, so any help from the community is greatly appreciated,” Nolan said, adding that the monthly visits will provide a level of consistency the organization doesn’t usually enjoy.
Nolan added that the kids were able to make their own sandwiches with healthy ingredients the Chicas Latinas de Sacramento brought, and that’s something the kids hadn’t done before.
Rosas said that, given the size of the nursery, she wants to keep the visits limited to seven women at a time, as that was a good number for interacting with the children, playing games and making food.
Nolan said another activity was making a piñata, which was not something the kids typically get to do, but was a positive cultural experience.
“I’m just amazed at her thinking of this group she started three years ago to be a community service group, and now it’s all different ages and backgrounds,” Nolan said. “I think it’s really exciting.”
Chicas Latinas de Sacramento was, as the name implies, started as a place for Latina women to congregate and volunteer, but it has since been expanded to include women of other cultures. There is a wide range of ages as well: Rosas said there are girls in their teens all the way up to seniors who partake in the group’s activities.
Right now, funding is limited, and Chicas Latinas de Sacramento is working on raising the $800 needed to file the nonprofit organization paperwork and hire a consultant to ensure it is correct. Once that’s done, the group can seek donations that will be tax-exempt for donors.
Rosas faced came to a point where the organization became more than a part-time endeavor, and she quit her job in communications for an insurance company to work full-time for Chicas Latinas de Sacramento.
“When I realized this was growing, I had to decide if this was something I needed to pull back from or go all the way with,” Rosas said. “There’s too much need out there.”