December 13, 1989
By Yolanda Reynolds
Friday, December 15, San Jose State’s Círculo Hispánico is sponsoring a Fiesta de Navidad. The Círculo is raising funds in order to purchase gifts and toys for the Watsonville children who lost their homes to the earthquake.
The Círculo Hispánico, a San Jose State University student organization “circle” membership is made up primarily of Spanish language students. The Círculo had been an active organization many years ago, but in recent years had ceased to be active.
The club’s purpose is to promote friendship and inter-cultural relationship among San Jose State University students.
When some of the students at San Jose State University hear of the need for bilingual persons at Watsonville they reactivated El Círculo Hispánico.
The membership is growing daily. Interim officers of the club are Flor Shea, Patricia Phillips and Sandra Moreno. The club members have organized themselves to help in the earthquake relief effort in a number of ways. Some of the students have been going to Watsonville weekly.
The students say they were especially gratified to realize that it was their help that quickly reduced the long and very slow waiting lines to which the families needing food, of necessity, had been subjected. The Círculo Hispánico is coordinating its work with that of a Watsonville community based organization, Salud Para la Gente.
Graduated bilingual students, Flor Shea and Patricia Phillips both remarked that the contribution of the Círculo was noticeable and valued. The students were especially helpful in getting quick answers to the questions and concerns of the earthquake victims from the disaster relief and Watsonville officials.
There has been much criticism in that community of the lack of bilingual City and County personnel that are needed to assist the community under ordinary circumstances. This situation became especially aggravated as a consequence of the earthquake because of the large Latino community many of which are farm workers living and working in or near the Watsonville area.
Watsonville this past week just completed tallying the City Council returns. As a result of the Court ordered redistricting for Council elections, only one of the persons previously serving on the Council was returned to office. A new member of the eight person council is Oscar Rios. The new City Council is described as “progressive.”
Aside from spending a part of each week in Watsonville directly helping in the relief effort, the Círculo is busy with preparations for the upcoming holiday fundraising event. The Círculo Hispánico is concentrating now on raising funds to buy the children gifts and toys for Christmas.
Flor says that Tandem Computers has given corporate commitment and requested that their employees contribute to the Circulo’s toy and gift fundraising effort. Though the fund raising has just begun, the Club has also received some very generous donations from professors and friends at the University.
Over the weeks, while in Watsonville, a number of the Círculo volunteers led by Veronica Uribe and Maria Elena Gonzalez, have compiled a list of the families in need, including the names and ages of the children. It is this list that will help the Círculo volunteers find an appropriate gift for each child.
The children, 400 in number, range in age from one month to 14 years. The Círculo hopes to have enough money to buy at least 400 gifts to help make this a less sad Holiday season for the many families who lost almost all they had to the earthquake.
Patricia Phillips explained that there are a number of camps at which the earthquake victims are living, Ramsey Park, Buena Vista, and Calahan Park. Phillips says that most of the new stories about the earthquake victims do not fully explain why the people wish to remain where they originally set up temporary shelters.
She and others directly assisting in the relief effort say that the people wish to stay where they are because these locations are close to where their homes were, where their children go to school and where many of the parents work.
Shea says that the parents were especially concerned that their children be able to continue school where they were enrolled before the earthquake.
They said that another major consideration is their transportation needs. Very few of the families have two vehicles and many do not have even one vehicle. Most of the families live close to where they work.
Dr. Celia Zapata, a San Jose State University Spanish Language professor, is the faculty advisor for the Círculo Hispánico. She says that the Círculo’s Disaster Relief Program has not only been helpful to the earthquake victims but has also been rewarding to the Spanish language students, whose bilingual abilities are greatly appreciated. Dr. Zapata goes on to state “contrary to the selfish image attributed to today’s college students, the college students involved in the Círculo Hispánico have been generous with their time and talents and are genuinely concerned for this community that finds itself in need of more than ordinary attention after the October 17 earthquake which brought so much devastation to so many families in the Watsonville area.”
To contribute to the Fiesta de Navidad Fundraiser, checks can be mailed to Círculo Hispánico Watsonville Project, P.O. Box 1624, San Jose, CA 95109 or, if on the campus at San Jose State University, the contribution can be left at the Associated Student Business Office in the Student Union. For more information or details regarding the Fiesta de Navidad Fundraiser call Dr. Zapata’s office at (408) 924-4624.