Established in 1972, Centro Cultural is the oldest culturally specific Hispanic organization in Oregon serving large numbers of Latino residents. Centro fills an important role in our community as an all-purpose hub where people can access services, attend classes and be connected with resources of all kinds. Since its inception, Centro has served Latino families in Washington County with an ever-growing range of programs aimed at creating self-sufficient and active citizens. Centro’s mission is to ensure that Hispanic immigrants are fully prepared to integrate into the larger community. We do that by promoting education and economic development, increasing cultural consciousness, responding to community needs and celebrating understanding among the diverse groups of our community. To ensure that our services have a lasting value to the entire community, we base our programs on the belief that the success of youth is dependent on the support of their parents and the success of individuals is dependent on their integration into the community.
Founded by a group of migrant families who wanted, despite resistance from established residents, to make Washington County their permanent home. The fourteen migrant families who founded Centro Cultural believed in creating a vibrant, cohesive society shared and valued by established and newcomer residents of different ethnicity and backgrounds. Many of Centro’s founders have dedicated their lives to civic service and now serve in positions in state, county and city government. Their children and grandchildren continue their work and their success by serving on Centro’s board of directors and by working as volunteers for Centro.
In forty years Centro has evolved from a group of families trying to find housing in an unwelcoming region to a bustling community center where, at various times of the day and week, one can see volunteers and instructors working with young students and learning about STEM subjects, while the students' parents attend adult education classes; individuals receiving referrals to appropriate social services; or families gathering food from our Harvest Share program.
"This is where we want to stay" - Courtesy of Oregon Historical Society
A look into Tejanos and Latino Community Building in Washington County.