SPRINGFIELD – A unique center in Springfield was unveiled on Aug. 31, after a newly-installed sign outside the center announced Casa de la Unidad/House of Unity to the Springfield community.
Ebbert Memorial Methodist Church owns the parsonage building at 530 C. St. The church made office space available to two programs of Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC): Springfield Alliance for Equity and Respect (SAfER) and Citywide Union de Activistas, a program focused on youth leadership development. Sharing the space are Escudo Latino, a group based in Springfield’s Latinx immigrant community, and Carry It Forward, an organization serving the area’s unhoused population.
“Casa de la Unidad represents a safe place for the Latinx community, where there is hope and where there is support, information and resources from your own community," said Mariela German, chair of Escudo Latino.
Citywide members conferred with families and small businesses to come up with the Casa de la Unidad name, while donations from supporters are helping to cover the annual expenses of the center. Donations are still welcome and needed.
This center is a first for Springfield, according to organizers — a safe, welcoming home for groups too often marginalized. Organizers say that it’s a place for belonging, connection and constructive change, a hopeful place.
“Casa de la Unidad means hope. The minute we got the keys, we had a place to come together, from different angles— Carry It Forward serving unhoused people, Citywide Unión de Activistas working with Latinx youth, Escudo Latino providing information and resources to the Latinx community, and SAfER focusing on actively empowering the disenfranchised — all with the common goal of making Springfield feel safer,” said Johanis Tadeo, CALC’s SAfER community organizer. “Just having this space—and a sign to present it—makes a huge statement that we care for our community and we are ready to listen to folks who have been marginalized and oppressed.”
Back row, from left: June Fothergill, CALC Board Member and Reverend at Ebbert United Methodist Church and Kris McAlister, co-director of Carry It Forward. Front row: Mariela German, chair of Escudo Latino with her son; Rosalba Rodriguez, co-chair of Escudo; and Rosalba Rodriguez, co-chair of Escudo. PHOTO PROVIDED