The Latino Network began 20 years ago in the summer of 1993. A group of individuals met at “My Brother’s Place”, a restaurant that used to be located by city hall. The original meetings were to discuss the upcoming appointment of a new trustee for the Riverside Community College District and to find ways to lend support to our candidate to fill that seat. With the rapidly increasing Latino population, he would then become the second Latino trustee in the history of the college.
When the appointment effort failed the group decided to continue meeting around a breakfast format and to invite other people in the community to come on Wednesday mornings to share and comment on issues and events relating to Latinos in the Riverside area.
The meetings were a popular place for newcomers and old-timers to come and network. After My Brother’s Place closed the meetings were held at various restaurants including La Escondidita (corner of Brockton and University) another restaurant located at the original Squires on University and Zacatecas Café. Since we had to find a new location each time a restaurant closed or we outgrew a restaurant, it was decided that we would begin meeting at the Centro de Niños site. While we couldn’t order breakfast, the location allowed us to have coffee and pan dulce and most importantly, the childcare center served to remind us why our work was necessary; the children. Today, 20 years later, we continue to meet at the new Nati Fuentes Child Development Center, Centro de Niños.
Annual events include Celebración de la Mujer, a luncheon established to recognize Latina women working to improve our community in various fields of interest, the annual Cesar Chavez Memorial breakfast, which promotes the legacy of Cesar Chavez, and Nuestra Navidad, which allows the group to raise funds for community support.
The mission of The Latino Network is to address community issues affecting and impacting the Latino community in Riverside and the surrounding areas and provides a vehicle for the dissemination of information and the sharing of resources. The focus of Latino Network has always been education and voter registration. Latino Network partners with other important community groups to strengthen the efforts of common goals.
The Latino Network enters its 22nd year with elected officers but with the same focus: providing a place where individuals can come for a cup of coffee and pan dulce to celebrate events impacting the Latino community, where someone can voice a concern, where opinions are expressed, where we can come to hear a community leader address progress or lack of it, where we can lend a word of hope and support, and where we can be re-energized by looking out the window at our children.