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Our
History

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.

The Beginnings

1968

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

1971

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 at the first director.

Indian Chicano Health Center

CAC established the Indian Chicano Health Center. Later this would be known as OneWorld Community Health Center.

New Location

1974

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.

Leadership

1980’s

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.

Education

1982

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

1984

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.

Being Counted

1990

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

1991

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.

Fighting Crime

2000

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.

Expanding Reach

2003

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.

Community

2007

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

2011

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.

New Leadership

2017

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.

Pandemic Support

2020

Serving Throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic

Fresh produce, hygiene supplies, and other resources were distributed to the community during a drive-thru event at South High. The Center worked through the pandemic to support 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 info@latinocenter.org!

Header image courtesy of IRIS22 Productions

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