Casa San José: Breaking Down Barriers in Pittsburgh

Throughout Pittsburgh there are numerous organizations whose mission is to work towards total equity in one aspect of life or another. An example of this is Casa San José, where mission of Casa San José is to empower Latinos “by promoting integration and self-sufficiency.” Specifically, Casa San José works to make Pittsburgh an equitable community for Latinos. They improve the lives of Pittsburgh immigrants by assisting with access to daily services, advocating for Latino immigrant rights, helping to limit the cultural barriers, and providing access to education for youth and families. Casa San José has impacted the Pittsburgh community with their vision. However, as many have said before: they would be nothing without their team. The volunteers and staff that transform the goals of Casa San José into a reality are passionate individuals who members of Pittsburgh are beginning to acknowledge.

As of August, the Pittsburgh Foundation has created a new fund that aims to advocate for social justice. Specifically, from a grant of $158,000 the Pittsburgh Foundation has awarded eight different organizations to support and encourage the work they are doing. One of those eight organizations was Casa San José, and they received a grant of $20,000 to continue to create a more equitable atmosphere for Latinos here in Pittsburgh. Monica Ruiz, the executive director of Casa San José, states how “The needs of Pittsburgh have changed. The Social Justice Fund is a hopeful sign for the future; Pittsburgh has some great organizers working directly with communities, but they often have a hard time securing funding.” With this money Casa San José can offer more resources to the Latino community in Pittsburgh. Specifically, the goals they have for the 2018-2019 are to hold more trainings for their Community-Based Response Project and broaden their Jovenes con Proposito program. From high school youth to the overall Latino immigrant community, Casa San José has programs that focus on supporting Latinos’ immigration rights and policies by strengthening their knowledge on these topics.

A member of Casa San José’s staff has also been recognized for their work recently. The Youth Community Outreach Coordinator of Casa San José, Jeimy Ibarra, has been named one of Pittsburgh’s 30 Under 30 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. Jeimy is only 24 years old and has started a Saturday program for immigrant children through Casa San José. The objective of this program is to teach the kids the significance behind continuing their education. Also, Jeimy facilitates excursions to the Mexican/American border, and organizes other activities for the kids to help them with different aspects of life and education. In her interview with Pittsburgh Business Times she expresses how she loves her job and even spends her “non working hours with the youth...trying to make sure they feel welcomed.” Jeimy also described how their are challenges of her job such as, “Finding mental health services for Latino immigrants. Most of my youth have faced trauma one way or another...” Another challenge that she talked about was how difficult it can be for students to continue their schooling due to their financial circumstances. Jeimy is just one of the nine staff members of Casa San José, and these are just the main staff members of the organization. They also have many volunteers that are dedicated to their programs and engagement with the Latino community.

Casa San José has made themselves a welcoming home to Latinos in the Pittsburgh area. They have addressed the challenges that Latinos face and have put into place programs that try to ease the burden of these problems. Each of the staff members play a different role in the support that they provide, whether it be social services, Spanish-English assistance, emotional support, education activities, or general community engagement each member plays a significant part in making Pittsburgh a more equitable place for Latinos.  



About Author(s)

Carley Clontz
Carley is an undergraduate senior at the University of Pittsburgh. She is studying Economics, Spanish, French, Global Studies, and Latin American Studies. Through academic and research programs, Carley has traveled to Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia. Her articles focus on human rights violations, economic and political developments, and systemic violence.