The Latino Center of the Midlands, much like the Latino community within the greater Omaha area has a rich history of students, staff members, and programs. We started as the Chicano Awareness Center in 1971 and have developed to serve our community to the best of our ability.
First Meeting in Basement of Our Lady of Guadalupe
A group of local Chicanos began meeting in the basement of Our Lady of Guadalupe to discuss the opening of a community center. The group sought to create a group that advocated for local Mexican Americans.
Where it All Began
Rev. Roberto Navarro Was Hired as First Director
The organization was officially started and named the Chicano Awareness Center (CAC). Rev. Roberto Navarro was hired as the first director.
Indian Chicano Health Center
CAC established the Indian Chicano Health Center. Later this would be known as OneWorld Community Health Center.
Chicano Awareness Center Finds a New Location
It took three moves during a four-year search to settle on a new location for the Chicano Awareness Center – 4825 S 24th St. The Latino Center of the Midlands still occupies the same building.
CAC Expands Programming
In the 1980’s the organization expanded programming to help the elderly, English language learners, and individuals living with substance/alcohol abuse disorder.
Investing in Education
CAC received funding to assign a full-time counselor to a program dedicated to helping Chicano students explore post-graduation career and educational opportunities.
Art on Display
Egan Viola’s Mural
Local artist Egan Viola donates a seven-foot square mosaic mural to the CAC, which is still on display at the Latino Center of the Midlands.
Encouraging Civic Engagement
After recognizing that only a small percentage of local Latinos were voting and completing the Census, The Chicano Awareness Centers decided to partner with other organizations to promote civic engagement. The Latino Center of the Midlands still continues this work today.
Taking a Stand
Work against Gang Violence and Drug Abuse
160 individuals parade through streets in South Omaha to take a stand against a recent upsurge in violence.
Chicano Awareness Center Receives FBI Award
The CAC continued its work in fighting crime and violence in Omaha. The Chicano Awareness Center was recognized by the FBI for its effort.
The Chicano Awareness Center Builds Community Partnerships
The CAC grew partnerships with non-profits, government agencies, and school districts in the greater Omaha metro area to serve more individuals.
Latino Center of the Midlands
Chicano Awareness Center changed its name to the Latino Center of the Midlands because more immigrants came from different Spanish speaking countries.
Pathways to Success
Guiding Students Towards Success
The CAC had always supported education. However, launching the Pathways to Success program in 2011 allowed for the organization to impact even more students in Omaha.
Albert Varas Grows Latino Center
Albert Varas, the current Chief Executive Officer of the Latino Center, launched the Family and Community Well-Being department and other initiatives to support the holistic health of the community.
As we celebrate our 50th year anniversary, we would like to collect as much information about the Latino Center’s history. Do you have an event or milestone that you would like to add to our timeline? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Header image courtesy of IRIS22 Productions