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The nonprofit Latin American Workers Project recently turned to a valuable resource to help raise awareness for its cause: local and talented artists. At a space in Jackson Heights, Raul Coto Batres, Samia Mohammed, Yousuf Mahmood, Mery Diaz, Jonathan Hedderman and Gerald Pardieu showcased their work Nov. 9 in the LAWP art exhibition and fund−raiser.
Founded 11 years ago, the LAWP’s goal is to help make Latino workers’ transition to the city a little easier by providing them with resources such as ESL, computer and literacy classes along with legal advice and many other services.
From very modest beginnings the LAWP has grown to include seven different committees, each aimed at empowering and providing a range of services for this community.
But against a backdrop of hard economic times, providing for others is becoming increasingly difficult. “We’re having a problem with the budget for the ESL classes, so we need to find different ways to get the funding in support of these classes,” said George Trivino, an English consultant for the ESL course and one of the organizers of the event.
The ESL program, one of the sub−programs within the education committee of the organization, was the focus of the fund−raiser. “This is our first exhibition and we’re supporting the ESL classes,” Trivino said. “We’re selling art and also having a lot of fun. We don’t want to stop. We have the opportunity, for a fund−raiser so we’re here. I am so happy with the turnout.”
The artwork at the event was comprised of paintings, sculpture and photography. Pardieu explained why it was important for him to support the LAWP. “It feels good to be part of something like this. I always like to help,” he said.
Eva Berman of the Bronx said she made the trip to Queens because she wanted to stand behind the LAWP. “I know that the organization recently lost their grant, so I’m here to help raise money so that they can continue providing free classes to new immigrants. I think it’s a really good cause and it’s also supporting the arts, which is awesome.”
The LAWP’s solution on alternative ways to raise funds seems to be a win for everybody involved. Organizations get to draw in new crowds of people, artists get to showcase their work and participants can come together to support the local organizations trying to make a difference in people’s lives. Of course, there’s also the chance of finding that perfect piece of artwork to add to your home.
“Seeing this economic crisis and how the government is not really supporting our programs, artists are very supportive,” Trivino said. “I think the best way to get some help is from our artist friends. We’re all artists, so that’s why we feel that with this we can make it.”
For more information on the Latin American Workers Project, headquartered in Brooklyn but which provides services citywide, call 718−779−2553 or visit www.elptla.org.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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