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Buffalo, NY | Local News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WGRZ.com

WNY's Hispanic community unites forces against COVID-19

September 15 marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. This year, the community is marking the month by raising awareness and lifting spirits.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — September 15 is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. It's a time that Hispanic communities around the country come together to celebrate all that "is" the community - historically speaking and in present day.

It's a time to share the diverse culture, language, food, music, history. It's a time to allow others to share in pride that people in the Hispanic community feel everyday.

This year, however, with COVID-19, things are somewhat different and so is the community.

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, the unemployment rate for Hispanics in the U.S. increased from 4.8 percent in February to 18.5 percent by April. The numbers for Hispanic women are even higher. The unemployment rate for women peaked to 20.5 percent by April.

In Western New York, community leaders like Casimiro Rodriguez of the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY and Dr. Raul Vazquez, CEO of Urban Family Practice, are doing their part to boost awareness this month, in the Hispanic community and on behalf of the Hispanic community.

"The biggest issue the Black community and the Latino community have are jobs," Vazquez said. "Why not develop training programs that are practical to these types of issues so that we change those communities."

With unemployment numbers growing, community organizations are joining together to create even more robust bilingual resources, for Latinos living in Western New York. 

"The language barrier is a barrier that uniquely impacts the Latino community," Vazquez said. "It is hard for people to understand what to do, where to go, what is important if they don't see people who look like them or hear people who speak their language. Trust is an issue."

In addition to resources to help families during this time, Rodriguez says this month will still be a celebration. A celebration of strength and community. 

There will be activities and programming until October 15. And for those who are wondering, resources will not be going anywhere, they are here to stay.