The Mexican Coalition, based in Melrose, stands as an essential resource for immigrants. Jairo Guzman, the founder, has developed this organization into a key support system for a diverse population, predominantly from Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Annually, The Mexican Coalition assists approximately 18,000 families. The majority are of Mexican descent, but there’s an increasing number from nations such as Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. This shift reflects the changing dynamics of immigration in the area.
The Mexican Coalition is deliberately placed inside The Immaculate Conception Church, recognizing the profound role faith plays in the lives of many immigrants.
Guzman said, “A migrant can lose everything along the way when they’re moving to another country. They can lose their documentation, all their belongings. But they’ll never lose their faith.”
This decision underscores the Coalition’s function: it’s not only a provider of practical assistance but also a source of emotional and spiritual support.
Guzman’s journey to this pivotal role was personal. Arriving in the U.S. at a young age, he understood the struggles migrants faced firsthand. His own experiences fueled a desire to create opportunities for others, to give back to a community that had welcomed him.
Guzman’s philosophy for The Mexican Coalition is rooted in offering a comprehensive range of services under one roof. This approach was shaped by his observations of other agencies focusing on singular aspects like education, health, or cultural activities. The Mexican Coalition, in contrast, provides a multitude of services including English as a second language classes, citizenship courses, mental health workshops, legal orientation, and preventive health care.
The Mexican Coalition at Immaculate Conception Church.
Legal aid is a cornerstone of their service, catering to those bewildered by immigration laws. The Coalition arranges for legal experts to consult with immigrants, guiding them through possible avenues to adjust their immigration status.
Education is also a critical aspect of their mission. Offering English language courses and citizenship classes, the Coalition commits to holistic development, empowering individuals through learning and personal growth.
The recent surge in immigration has brought new challenges. Guzman noted that the Coalition is dealing with an increased demand for essential resources like housing and clothing, which has put a noticeable strain on the staff. “They are deeply dedicated to our mission, and it’s challenging for them when they can’t assist people as effectively as they would like,” Guzman said.
The Coalition’s staff goes beyond providing immediate aid; they collaborate with the Mexican consulate and engage in translation and interpreting services. These efforts are key in fostering connections within the community, benefiting individuals directly and strengthening the broader community network.
Miguel Villalobos, a community ambassador at the Mexican Coalition, spoke about his role: “When Covid hit, I started as a volunteer,” he said. “Jairo later offered me a chance to help people facing situations similar to mine. Now, I’m involved in both distributing donations and educating others about their rights in this country.”
Reflecting on the Coalition’s journey, Guzman takes pride in the impact they have made. Despite the challenges, their work has positively affected many lives.
The Coalition remains committed to supporting immigrants in the United States and has become an integral part of the South Bronx community. The organization is located at 371 E 150th St. and is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.