The Ohio Hispanic Coalition

The Ohio Hispanic Coalition (OHC) began its’ work in the 90's to respond to the needs of Latino immigrants in the Columbus area. Josué Vicente, the organization's Executive Director tells us how OHC's mission has developed over time and why a radio station could be the missing element.

The OHC first took form through the work of volunteers whose goal was to resolve the challenges that many undocumented immigrants faced in order to gain access to social services. They focused on connecting the community with adequate health services, particularly attending to pregnant women who were in need of prenatal care. From this point onward OHC began to explore other ways in which it could better serve the community and foster a sense of collective well-being. This meant addressing issues of inaccessibility to health, education and nutrition services within the community. Over the last 22 years the OHC has grown in order to address these issues through a variety of programming that encourages community engagement. Elementary age children participate in a year-long after school program while women in the community participate in a leadership development program that enables them to acquire new skills in order to better connect the members of their community to health and social services.

Josue tells about the challenges the organization has faced throughout the years in attempting to bridge the communication gap with the surrounding community: “We have always depended on the local radio stations and newspapers to get the word out, however, these require a fee to compensate for the time we use on the air and this is not a feasible option for us. In addition, the existing radio stations are not supportive of our messages or our PSA's, because they have supported by corporate funders whose politics do not stand in favor of the immigrant community. We have found that these media producers often make offensive and disrespectful interpretations of our culture ” Josue recounts.

An interview with Josue Vicente By Stephanie McGuinness