Brad Porterfield serves as the Executive Director of the Latino Community Association here in Central Oregon. The Latino Community Association, or LCA for short, has a mission is to empower Central Oregon Latino families to thrive, creating opportunities for advancement and building bridges that unite and strengthen everyone in our region.
LCA is an essential connecting point for our immigrant community to ask questions, have letters translated, get help making phone calls and negotiating payment plans
LCA helps families pay their bills, file their taxes, work through legal issues, find work, improve their English, and connect to new opportunities. It gives clients the time to be heard and understood. It also provides volunteer opportunities that bring people together across cultures to build a more cohesive community. You can learn more about LCA at www.latinocommunityassociation.org.
Most recently I bumped into Brad at the Bend Chamber of Commerce Excellence Awards, where the Latino Community Association received the prestigious Community Stewardship Award. That led to a coffee conversation where I learned more about LCA and it became clear that everyone in our region should know about this organization.
I believe, like me, you’re going to really enjoy learning from Brad.
If you're not wealthy, and you don't have you know, economic status that's attractive, too are the folks making the decision for immigration here? Here, we're just in our country. If you don't have if you also don't have an attorney, and most wealthy people do is attorneys that can afford them if you don't have attorney and your chances are just very slim at getting any kind of access, legal access to work in that state. So there's just a lot of barriers. And, you know, I know some of this can be politically loaded, but it doesn't have to be. It's a it's a bureaucratic system, and it's not working. It's not working to be able to give legal access to the workforce that we need in this country that we were not producing here.Narrator:
Welcome to cascade views a discussion with Central Oregon leaders. Your host is Michael SIPE, local business and community leader Best Selling Author of the Nevada principle in candidate for Oregon State Representative for House District 53, which encompasses southern Redmon, sisters tombolo, and Northern bend. The purpose of these discussions is to share the views and insights of local leaders from a variety of community sectors on a range of timely and important regional and state issues. With that, now here is your host, Michael SIPE.Michael Sipe:
Thanks for joining us on cascade views. This is Michael SIPE, and today's guest is Brad Porterfield. Rad serves as the executive director of the Latino community association here in Central Oregon. The Latino community association, or LCA for short, has a mission to empower Central Oregon Latino families to thrive, creating opportunities for advancement, and building bridges that unite and strengthen everyone in our region. LCA is an essential connecting point for our immigrant community, to ask questions, have letters translated, get help making phone calls, negotiate payment plans, and so much more. LCA helps families pay their bills, file their taxes, work through legal issues, find work, improve their English and connect to new opportunities. It gives clients a time to be heard and understood. It also provides volunteer opportunities that bring people together across cultures to build a more cohesive community. You can learn more about LCA at WWW dot Latino community association.org. Most recently, I bumped into Brad at the Ben Chamber of Commerce Excellence Awards, where the Latino community association received the prestigious community stewardship award. That led to a coffee conversation where I learned more about LCA. And it became clear that everyone in our region should know about this organization, I believe like me, you're going to really enjoy learning from Brad. So with that, it's my pleasure to welcome Brad Porterfield to the show. Hi, Brad,Unknown:
one of my oils asMichael Sipe:
well as this. Brad, you've had a very interesting and broad background, fill us in just a bit on your personal background, and then how you ultimately came to lead the Latino community association.Unknown:
Okay, I'll do my best to be brief. I grew up in Southern California, Riverside, California, back in the mid 60s. And my first job there was in a Sunkist, citrus, citrus packing plant. We're a little oranges, lemons, avocado, etc, were packed and shipped out to stores and of course, there was a workforce there that pick those oranges and that citrus from the fields and I'd have to live surrounded by orange groves. And so that was my first introduction to the labor force and working society and and I did experience at that packing plant to immigration raid of the workforce there. And of course, at that time, didn't understand anything you know about it couldn't really place it in the broader understanding of our society and our economy and all that. But today, I certainly understand it much better. I took a path of studying Spanish because I was working alongside mainly Mexicans and in the citrus packing not so much but then in restaurants in construction. I was and just saw the need for to learn Spanish that will be useful. And I also saw the manager that's just packing plants of the workforce. There was a good friend of my dad's and and we will go hunting down to Mexico and I'll see see him interact with, you know, the people of Mexico and be able to communicate whereas my dad couldn't and neither could any of the other folks in our in our crew there. And so I just kept seeing the signs, you know, basically that that's gonna be useful learn this language and be able to communicate with a whole nother group of people that live in my community. And from there, I went to study Spanish, study French and really learn to love to study language. When I went to university, I started basically from scratch with Spanish and studying Latin American literature and, and then I went on to, I lived in Wahaca, for a study abroad and Wahaca, Mexico. And then after that, I went to the Peace Corps in Uruguay. And I was doing environmental work there. So I studied at Humboldt State University, I studied natural resource planning. And quickly kind of moved from the science of natural resources to that people management of natural resources and, and that was kind of where I started my, I guess, social service work for lack of a better term. And then I came back from the Peace Corps in Uruguay to Hermiston. And a program at the University of Oregon called Resource assistance for rural environments, that kind of places, college educated folks out in rural communities here in Oregon as a resource. And I lived there for two years and worked with the community there learned a lot, I went back to the University of Oregon grad school and studied community regional planning, and took that kind of a social planning route, worked with some affordable housing communities doing talking with the residents to identify their needs, and, and wants and so forth. And, and then I won't go into every job, because, but I did, I moved over to with my now ex wife, we moved over to Thailand, my mother's a missionary over there, she's been there since 1985. And, and we ended up living there for two years I taught at a school, we had our son there, and then we move back. And we're looking for a place to land and we landed in Bend, Oregon, having, you know, the experience that I did have living with in Mexico and Uruguay, and here in United States, among Latinos, and using language and, you know, it just seemed to be a good fit. And I ended up being hired as the first executive director, full time Executive Director of the Latino community association, that was in 2006. So I've been here ever since is the first place of really putting down some roots.Michael Sipe:
Well, and we're glad that you have give us a snapshot of the history of LCA since you came on board. And what's happened over the last few years.Unknown:
Yeah, so the the organization started through a Hispanic council at St. Francis Catholic Church, and then, and they had a father, they're one of the fathers, their preachers, was, had experienced, he come from California, and he spoke Spanish, and he connected well, with the Latino community there. And, you know, Catholicism is, although it's changing, it has been the primary religion of Latin American countries, most countries, and particularly of Mexicans and Central Americans. And so they invent, they saw a lot of growth in the 1990s, as everyone did. Anybody who was here, I wasn't here. But anyone who was here saw quite a bit of growth in anytime there's, you know, fast growth in the community that requires more workers a workforce to match that growth. And Latinos are filling in a lot of, of those of those jobs, to help Ben grow, and the rest of sense Oregon as well. And so they saw the need that they were starting to see the barriers where a lot of the workers from Mexico and Central America, were facing a lot of barriers, in particular the language. So they didn't speak English well. And you know, the folks here didn't speak Spanish, or very few did. And so that's, you know, that just raised that cause a lot of problem that causes a lot of obstacles. And they just said that our systems don't work so well for those individuals in their families. So they started our organization, and it's called program that you love the health health program when it started. And we had the support of the Deschutes. County Commissioner Dennis Maloney and the democratic school district to kind of get us up on our feet. And again, I wasn't here at that time, but and then the organization went for about six years. 2000 was formed in 2000, what's up 2006 or 2005, in different little cubicles and county buildings, not ideal at all. And then finally, ended up the events community center in 2006. That's when I was hired. And it was just me and Rosie Gomez, who was running the show at that time, to two staff people and then we had a lot of volunteer support. That's still a big part of our organization today. But since then, since 2016, gradually, of course, we had the economic recession. 2008 Nine And that was kind of ugly. And but then we saw we had grew, grew a little bit, contracted a little bit and then started to grow again after that recession. And today, we have 13 employees, paid employees have enough offices and Ben Revin, Madison Pineville. And we still work with a whole bunch of volunteers that make our work both more enriching and valuable, and just allow us to do a lot more for the community.Michael Sipe:
Well, what a great growth story help us understand who the clients of LCA are.Unknown:
So mainly the people that we serve, are those who have low English proficiency. So people with long, you know, immigrants from Latin America, although we do have some Chinese students in our English classes, you know, occasionally there are immigrants from other countries who connect with our programs, but it's primarily Latin American folks from Mexico and Central America. And they are still hitting those, you know, barriers in our systems with due to the language barrier. And even though you know, we've grown here in Central Oregon, we now have more people who are Latino who are professionals who speaks to our bilingual Spanish English. And, or like me, who are, I am bilingual, but I'm not bicultural. You know, I do speak Spanish based on my experience and passions, and understand the culture pretty well. Cultures. But there's still a lot of barriers. So primarily, we serve the adults, because they're the ones who generally have the low, lower English proficiency. And it's just harder for adults, I think we can both relate to learn things like new languages, once you're once you're a certain age. And so that's who generalizing that is, that's our kind of focus point. Beyond that, it's, of course, their kids, their families, or family members or relatives, and, and Latinos who speak perfect English, and were born here. But again, the primary focus of ours is to remove those barriers as much as we can. Both English, economic, cultural, and in generally we serve also the lower income families that just have more needs and or more aspirations and more steps to get to their to reach their goals.Michael Sipe:
Sure, well, I'm going to ask you a complicated kick, that's too complicated even say, I'm going to ask you a complicated question right now. And, and ask for kind of a concise answer, but but it would really help me understand if you could give us a little summary on how the immigration system works, or, or maybe doesn't work well. But first of all, for those who follow a formal process, to seek citizenship, before or simultaneous with entering the country, and then for undocumented residents, who come to America for work and now wish to become citizens? How does this deal work?Unknown:
I'll do my best to be it's hard to be concise to answer the question, but I'll do my best. So first of all, for those in their home countries wanting to migrate to the United States, you know, as you know, there's people want to migrate the United States from all over the world. And so our immigration system, first of all, has kind of quotas for countries that only allow a certain number of people to come in from certain country in a certain timeframe. So that's, that's the first kind of area where you start to see you know, the inability just for people to flow from one country to our to another. But then we also, you know, our immigration system, it's really complicated. I'm not sure it has to be as complicated as it is. But it's very complicated with all these different visas and all these different pathways to either comes tourist or comes to student or come here to actually operate a business work and live. And if it favors the wealthy, it favors people coming in, who are who have resources, have money or going to start businesses, and create jobs and that kind of thing. So that's, that's important to understand. And it doesn't at all favor, just working people who, you know, might not may or may not have a high school, college education. But they're great workers. And it really runs the gamut. But let's let's focus on the folks with no college education. And that's primarily who we serve. Those folks essentially have no pathway to get here legally. It's rare, the only way is that they can as if they have a family member or an immediate family member here, which is a parent or child who has permanent residency or citizenship and permanent residency, people heard of a green card that's essentially what that is. It's work authorization, permission to work and live here and in it The first step toward citizenship. And so most of the folks that we're serving don't have that opportunity, there's just no, there's no line to get in, there's nowhere to apply. And yet, you know, our economy is calling for workers, especially now more than ever, but even before the pandemic, you know, for Senate for centuries, for as long as any of us have been united states, immigrants have come here to create opportunity and fill jobs and, and raise families and so forth. And that's still where we're at still where we are at today. Of course, there's a bunch of details and all that, that we just can't get into. And I don't even know a lot of those. I know the basics, and then citizenship, you have to be permanent residency, you have to be able to get the green card, first of all, and then be here for at least five years or three years, if you're married to a US citizen, before you can apply for citizenship. So there's a, there's a lot of steps, there's fees involved, and all that. And most the other big piece of this is if you're not wealthy, and you don't have you know, economic status, that's attractive to our, the folks making the decisions for immigration here. And we're going to enter our country. If you don't have if you also don't have an attorney, and most wealthy people do use attorneys, they can afford them if you don't have attorney and your chances are just very slim at getting any kind of access legal access to work in that state. So there's just a lot of barriers. And, you know, I know some of this can be politically loaded, but doesn't have to be. It's a it's a bureaucratic system, and it's not working, it's not working to be able to give legal access to the workforce that we need in this country that we that we're not producing here, you know, in terms of being native born being born here in United States. So I'll stopMichael Sipe:
there. Well, you alluded to some of this, but expand a bit on some of the challenges that, that your clients and immigrants in the, in the description that you gave us, what are some of the challenges that they face here in Central Oregon.Unknown:
So the main challenges are the you know, some language becomes a challenge in pretty much every situation, if you're not able to communicate effectively, as you'd like to get your point across in English, then that just creates barriers, anywhere you go, anything you're doing. So that's the first one. The next one is, you know, there's some cultural barriers, which is primarily coming from a country that has a different bureaucracy has different, you know, society style norms, many, many are, are the same, you know, values, most of our values are really the same and get down to the nitty gritty. You know, we all care about our families, and what's what our family members and neighbors and friends to succeed in life. That's what it boils down to. But beyond that, it's, you know, there's just ways of living ways of relating to other people that are different here than, than in other countries. And so that, you know, creates barriers. And you know, some people will overcome those, some people will not, and we we exist to help as many people as possible to overcome overcome those barriers. You know, the, the immigration status barriers, biggest and the most overarching impactful on the lives of the people we serve, most people we serve, you know, if you don't have legal permission, sorry, legal permission to be here, and to work, then obviously, that creates challenges that creates stress that creates uncertainty. And just you have to live with a lot of doubt and uncertainty, and that's good for anything.Michael Sipe:
Well, as I recall, when we had coffee, the other day, you broke down the LCA services into three main categories. I know that you do a lot. But the as I recall, you broke those down into access, workforce education, and training, and advocacy. So let's look at each one of those in turn. First of all, talk to us about how you help immigrants gain access to essential services. What are those services? And I think you've already alluded to it, but But why is it a challenge for your clients to access them? And how does LCA help?Unknown:
Yeah, so that's, that's more or less accurate. We have our programs broken down a little bit differently, but we don't have time to go into all those details. So I'll address the ones you mentioned. That's workforce development. You know, so gaining, you know, finding employment, a lot of that has been done over the years, just word of mouth. Like there's been enough jobs, enough people available to fill those jobs that you just talked to somebody They know there's a job available, they connect you, you get the job. It's less like that now, although, today, I think it's probably going back to that. But in the after the economic recession 2000 2009, things changed a lot, and everything went digital. And you had to, you know, you had to have a resume, you had to submit a resume electronically. And that right there just creates created a whole bunch of barriers, where our folks weren't, we weren't using computers, they were challenged with English, you know, so imagine trying to create a resume, submit a resume, when you're, you know, that's that's the, those are the circumstances. So, you know, we adjust and we do this all the time, we're adapting all the time to current needs. And so we adjusted at that time to create a resume for folks helping them create an email account, helping them apply for jobs online, helping them submit a resume to companies online. And then from you know, from that point forward, is, they're kind of on their own. Once the employer if the employer communicator reached out to them, you know, to manage the communication, and make their way through to being hired, hopefully, today, we have a workforce Navigator, and she's able to do a little more coaching and provide a little bit more support for that, but hasn't changed too, too much. The we have a youth rising program, which is an after school Spanish literacy program, which actually brings parents have Spanish speaking, and especially in homes into school after classes one day a week to teach the kids from the Spanish speaking homes to read write Spanish. And that's, again, we don't have time to go into it. But that essentially creates an awareness in those children that gets their parents involved, first of all, then it creates an awareness in those children that they're their parents or leaders that they that there's value in Spanish language, whereas our you know, our culture tends to kind of shut down second languages in our school system, even though we have classes for languages, that native speakers of those languages are really encouraged to speak their language. So just a lot, and then that plays into, you know, an individual's child's identity and their worth, and all kinds of things. So it's, it's pretty complicated, but needed really needed and powerful program. You know, we help we're helping with taxes right now. So folks want to file their taxes, you can imagine barriers to that with language with, you know, a lot of us do our taxes ourselves on online through the internet, most of our families don't use the internet or computer. So that's not an option for them to do themselves. Somebody needs to help them do that. Give me kind of a mediator in between, to help them with the technology and getting that data into the system or, you know, so we need to help make sure that there's language access, if there's people who can speak Spanish, or we can interpret for them when they go to get their taxes done, either through a free service or a paid service. So there's hopefully that gives you ideas just touching scratching surface, but probably that gives you and listeners an idea of the barriers folks face?Michael Sipe:
Sure, um, talk to us just a minute amount about advocacy. So how does LCA get involved in advocating for your your clients and, and the residents here in Central Oregon.Unknown:
So up until today, we have we have, we sit on boards, and our staff members, our board members, some of our volunteers, some of our clients occasionally sit on boards and committees to you know, be a voice for the families that we serve. And to just kind of look at the work that's been done. Like, for example, I'm on the Health Council advisory council to help counsel right now. And while I am there representing Oregon Health Plan, Medicaid consumers. I'm also there with a lens that, you know, I can I can look at what's being discussed and what's the seams that are being made through an awareness of the families that I serve the Latino families, we serve immigrant families that I serve. And so I can be a voice to a degree for for that community. And so that's one way we have folks involved in your school committee's housing committees. We do what we can. But then most recently, we just hired an advocacy leadership coordinator and we're gonna also direct part of the time and one of our existing staff members energy toward that as well. So they can work as a team and that's going to look like more like what maybe most people think of when they hear advocacy, which is political or policy advocacy. And it's not political candidates, candidates. We're a 501 C three nonprofit, we can't be involved. In campaigns for individuals like yourself, Mike, we can however advocate for policy. So we can be involved in any any city government's policies, education, district policies, health system policies. And so that's where we're headed, we're gonna get more involved in that having a staff person focused on it or staff and a half person. And then we're also going to most likely, we haven't decided we're most likely going to focus a lot of energy on immigration reform, because that is the one piece of policy reform that until that happens, our families will continue interventions will continue to live under stress that just shouldn't be there doesn't have to be there.Michael Sipe:
Will cool as we move toward wrapping up here, maybe you could share a couple of key objectives that you and the team at LCA have for the next year or two, what are some big things on on the agenda for you?Unknown:
Well, the advocacy, one is one of the big ones. So getting pushing for immigration reform, and then also look at it more local policies, but that's going to be a big one. And then leadership development is the other part of that project program. And so we want to connect our community, our younger families and individuals to existing leadership development programs, and then also very likely continue to develop some of our own, we've done that over the years, just here and there, in partnership with others, but leadership development is a big one. So there's just more more confidence engaging as citizens with with our local bureaucracies and such policymaking decision making processes. Another one is that course workforce workforce is always going to be one, we're trying to want to say that we're really looking at both encouraging and connecting organizations and businesses to resources that will help them diversify their workforce. So bring in more folks that do speak Spanish that do that are from Latin culture, so that they can better serve this community. From there, and but then also, you know, it goes both ways, essentially. And, and also, sorry, I lost my train of thought. No, yeah.Michael Sipe:
Well, just let me shift, because I'm seeing as I'm listening, all the things that you're doing and that you plan to do, I'm just wondering how we can help. I mean, how can our listeners help with supporting the mission of LCA? And and perhaps more importantly, with the clients that you serve? Yeah, I think,Unknown:
honestly, the main thing that I think about first is not our organization, but our communities. And just, I would just ask every listener to, to challenge your mindset, if you don't have a mindset that, you know, today, right now, that looks at it, that the people around you, and it recognizes the gifts and talents and everything that those individuals bring. without prejudice, I mean, we all have some level of bias, right, but without true prejudice, and discriminating against them. Fantastic. But if you don't, if you look out and see, you know, threats, or you see, you know, you're just find yourself making judgments about people just based on what you're seeing the color of their skin, whatever it might be language, if they're speaking Spanish or some other language. You know, there are folks in our community who get really upset by that. And we want to be understanding, but we also want to ask you and challenge you to, to check your mindset and just kind of do what you can to interact directly with people that you have doubts about. And so that you'll most likely more than likely realize that they're just like you, human beings and our families, they have jobs that are part of our community. So that's, that's the biggest one. And then beyond that, you know, get involved volunteer, we have volunteer opportunities to tutor English. Like I said, you know, language is the biggest barrier for our folks, and they need help, and they don't have time to be going to school. Some courts do, but most don't, because they're working so hard raising families. So we need we need people to just meet one on one with them, sometimes one on two. And just practice English help them you know, practice speaking English, because that's the hardest thing.Michael Sipe:
Read, it's been great having you on the show today. I'm really grateful for the work that you and your team does to serve our community. I think my main takeaway is right there at the end is just the openness for us all to to realize how much in common we all have and and how much the values are similar and not disparate. So I very much appreciate your time and your message today, Brad. I still I go, amigo.Unknown:
Thanks Mike. That's a little.Michael Sipe:
My guest for the show has been. Brad Porterfield, Executive Director of the Latino community association. You can learn more about the organization and its services at WWW dot Latino community association.org. Thanks for tuning in.Narrator:
Thanks for listening to cascade views with Michael SIPE. To find out more about Mike the upcoming election the key issues he's focused on in his campaign to represent Central Oregon and Salem as a state representative. Visit www dot a voice for Central oregon.com that's www dot a voice for Central oregon.com You can get your own copy of Michael sites best selling book the Avada firstname.lastname@example.org. And finally, please vote in the upcoming election. Your Voice Matters