Strategies for persuading Latino residents to participate in the 2010 Census were discussed Monday by a group focused on getting a complete count of all Stanislaus County residents.
"We need to have people who are trusted out there saying the census is safe," said Luis Molina, a member of the Stanislaus County Board of Education.
Molina stressed the need for all Latino community members to fill out their census questionnaires, because population counts are used to distribute tax dollars and determine representation in the House of Representatives and other legislative bodies.
Census 2010 forms will be mailed to every home in mid-March. The 10-question pamphlet should be filled out and returned by April 1.
"Latinos need to know they are empowered to be counted and to bring resources to their communities," said Molina, who is from Patterson.
Molina and other Latino leaders are organizing community events to spread the word about the census. He has scheduled a training session for volunteers willing to advocate for census participation. It will be from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Feb. 20 at Walnut Grove Elementary School, 775 N. Hartley St., Patterson.
"One of our goals is to get as many volunteers trained as possible along the Highway 33 corridor, from Westley to Newman," Molina said.
Another training session for advocates will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. Feb. 23 at the West Modesto Community Center, 401 E. Paradise Road, Modesto. The public is invited.
"The power is in the numbers," said Yamilet Valladolid, who runs the El Concilio Council for the Spanish Speaking in Modesto. She said it is important to train Latino community members about what the census is and why it is important so they can spread that information throughout Stanislaus County.
"The message needs to come from trusted people," said Valladolid, noting that the questionnaires are confidential and do not ask about immigration status or citizenship.
"People need to hear the right message about the census."
Members of the Hispanic Youth Leadership Council and other interested students in junior high through college will learn about Census 2010 on Saturday. The 10 a.m. to noon training will be at the Boy Scouts center, 4031 Technology Drive, Modesto.
More community events are planned.
"The census is done only once every 10 years, so now is the time we need to get active," said Nilda Johnson of the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency.
"We have to get everyone counted. What we do really impacts the community."
For more information about local efforts to promote participation in Census 2010, go to www.modbee.com/census.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2196.