Casa San Jose officials discuss the organization’s roots and mission to help the Latino community
A local organization has been providing free services to Latino communities in Pittsburgh for nearly 10 years, and it has no plans to stop. Casa San Jose, originally started by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden in Beaver County, has since grown and settled into its own headquarters in Beechview.
Pittsburgh City Paper recently spoke with two representatives of the organization’s services, origins, and overall mission. Intern Ladimir Garcia met with Edgar Andino, their community research specialist, and Spencer Mercado, their administrative assistant.
“Casa San Jose is definitely working on a daily basis to further its mission, that we can empower the community we serve and reach a point where the community reaches a level of self-reliance,” Mercado says.
Casa San Jose offers a range of resources and services intended to help all age groups within the Latin American community. Andino and Mercado emphasize that their services are open and free to Latinos in Pittsburgh and even those who live out of state.
“Casa San Jose’s doors are open to the world, no matter where you live or what state you’re from. If we can help you, we will be happy to do so. If we can’t we will find other resources, we never say no, we always can,” says Andino.
The organization hosts groups like Jovenes Con Proposito and Puentes Hacia El Futuro, in which they help young members of the Latin American community to develop bonds and prepare them for a better future. This is especially useful for teenagers or children who are newer to the United States and are trying to adjust to a new home.
Since the Covid outbreak, Casa San Jose has become a vital resource for those needing information on vaccines and other health measures.
According to Andino, at the height of the pandemic, Casa San Jose donated food to those in need and provided vaccination clinics for the local community. Immunization clinics are still ongoing and they hold them at their Beechview office on a weekly basis.
“Casa San Jose provides all its services free of charge. We are a non-profit organization in which the only objective we have is to help the Latino community, to find a way or another to establish our community so that it can bring about change and that the native population of United States can watch and see that Latinos are not their enemies, we did not come here to take your resources, but to fulfill our dreams,” Andino said.
According to Andino and Mercado, Casa San Jose currently operates primarily through community donations. People can donate to the organization through their website or through their financial office in Beechview.
Among the many challenges that Andino and Mercado say the Latino community in Pittsburgh has struggled with for years since working at Casa San Jose, the lack of translation services in government offices has been an ongoing struggle.
“In the 21st century, we see a new obstacle and that is the right to linguistic equality. Right now, in 2022, there are a lot of institutions that used to provide interpreting services and now they don’t anymore,” says Andino.
Mercado agreed, adding that many of the calls he receives are for documents in English and need to be completed.
“For example, help with medical resources, documents that are not available in the language, help with getting an education to get ahead, either in English or to get the best opportunities their children deserve here as residents,” Mercado said.
Andino and Mercado say much of the community comes to Casa San Jose for translation services, which government institutions often lack.
Casa San Jose actively provides its services free of charge to the community. Andino and Mercado say no one should be afraid to contact them.