| Program: || Hands Across Cultures Corp., Espanola, NM |
| Contact(s): || Harry Montoya, President: (505) 747-1889 |
| Purpose: || To utilize intercultural programming to develop healthy communities, particularly for the youth |
To overcome the historical effects of exclusion and racism on Hispanic and American Indian peoples in Rio Arriba County, Northern Santa Fe County, and the surrounding Pueblos in New Mexico, a local coalition of businesses, schools, and community members joined together to form Hands Across Cultures, Corp. ("HACC"-- pronounced 'hawk') in 1992. HACC is governed by a ten member Board of Directors, including city officials, tribal members, a physician, a member of the faith community, students, and an elder. HACC was designed to be responsive to the social, cultural, and political history of the communities served in its programmatic efforts to reduce the high rates of health problems among youth and their families which result from substance abuse, violence, and the influx of gangs into the communities. Since inception, HACC's mission was to develop programs to reduce the level of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse. In 1995, the purpose and goals of HACC were expanded due to the receipt of a three-year federal coalition grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).
HACC implements its programs with a staff which consists of an Executive Director, three Community Coordinators, and an Office Manager. Additional guidance as to programs that will meet community needs is provided through several committees comprised of community volunteers, including youth, parents, and professionals. HACC takes a holistic approach in the development of intercultural youth leadership activities, giving equal validity to the unique cultural and racial world views of the groups served and drawing on traditional cultural values to help build interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. These activities are designed to improve the health and social well being of youth through the involvement of the youth, their families, elders, teachers, and community members. HACC has also developed culture specific videos (e.g., Culture as a Cure, Confrontation with Reality, and Escaping Reality) that address some of the issues facing its youth. HACC also coordinates with federal, state, and tribal agencies, private sector organizations, and other entities to serve the needs of at-risk youth. For example, HACC is working with the Rio Arriba County DWI Council to further expand its role as a clearinghouse and central communications center for the distribution of training and information in all areas of "healthy communities."
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
HACC has provided training and services for over 2,000 youth and 40 active youth leaders, one of who was appointed to serve as an advisor to the Rio Arriba County Commission. As a federal CSAP grantee, HACC also provides free training to the local community to assist them in reaching their goals.