As the torch of leadership has been passed on from our legendary founder, Pat Fennell, the Latino Community Development Agency (LCDA) is well positioned and reinvigorated to grow into a new era of service expansion as the community we serve extends its exponential growth. Latinos continue to face adversities, yet a new realization is now gaining wider acceptance. Latinos are here to stay, they are already an important engine of economic growth, and will become even more so in the future. Nationwide, one of every four people under the age of 21 is Latino; and in Central Oklahoma, Latinos make up one of every five new births.
If not in hearts, eyes are certainly being opened to a new reality. Both major parties found it critical to parade an unprecedented number of Latinos as the principal speakers in each of the national political conventions – the podiums were filled with brown faces presenting the prime time addresses. Yet, while interest in Latinos has increased in this election cycle, critical obstacles to inclusion still impede the full integration of Latinos into the American dream. In Central Oklahoma, LCDA is the most community-trusted agency bridging these obstacles, offering programs that enhance the capacity of Latinos to be positive contributors to the Oklahoma community.
The diversity of our program offerings is unmatched and critically needed. Over one-third of Latinos have no employer-provided health insurance --- a rate twice the national average. For many of these Latinos, preventative health care would be non-existent without the LCDA. As an example of just one of our programs, countless Latino women from late stage cancer to early detection screenings are navigated to services by patient navigators at the LCDA. In July 2012 NCLR recognized the LCDA with a National Health Award, in recognition of LCDA’s contributions to improving the health and well being of the Latino community in Oklahoma City.
LCDA has 22 other impactful programs that make a critical difference in the lives of Latinos in Central Oklahoma and the support and trust from our community affirms that our efforts are more than worthwhile. The commitment and competence of a highly experienced and dedicated staff make my challenge easier and very rewarding. Building on the Latino values of faith, perseverance, endurance, a strong work ethic and cohesive family life styles, the LCDA enters a new era of major growth with renewed vigor and optimism.