From early European pioneers to Chinese miners to Greek ranchers, the faces of immigrants moving to the Yampa Valley has gradually changed throughout history.
In the past five to 20 years, most of those new faces have come from Spanish-speaking countries, a local immigrant service said. And now, that service is attempting to implement a program that would ease that transition for immigrants and their new communities.
"We really have a chance to do the right things, learn from history's mistakes and other community's pitfalls," said Summer Laws, director of Comunidad Integrada. "We have a chance to be proactive."
Communidad Integrada is a public service group pledged with supporting and promoting the successful integration of immigrants and residents of Moffat and Routt Counties.
Conforming with its mission, the group is now organizing a coalition of local leaders to help mesh the incoming immigrant populations with the existing community.
By bringing a group of "positive community leaders" together, Comunidad Integrada is seeking to:
n Gather information and data for an immigrant integration plan.
n Implement, or work with other organizations to implement, an integration plan for Moffat and Routt counties.
n Members of the committee should be willing to attend planning meetings twice a month for eight months, serve as a liaison to other community leaders and write a letter of support for the planning process.
By building the coalition, Comunidad Integrada hopes to receive grant funding from the Colorado Trust to pay for the integration planning process. From there, the coalition could also be chosen to receive additional funding to implement the plans.
Ten other communities are vying for the Colorado Trust grant money. Of the 10, five will be chosen to receive money from the grant making foundation.
Comunidad Integrada should learn in October whether or not they will receive grant money to move forward with the integration planning process. If approved, planning meetings would begin in November or December.
Those interested in being part of the committee should call Laws at 846-5521. They will be asked to submit a letter to the organization stating why immigrant integration is important to them and their level of commitment in joining the planning group.
Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.