Latinos from our community running for local School Districts boards
My name is Carmen Sonia Martinez and I was born in the Dominican Republic. I arrived to the United States in May 1972 to live in New York City, the South Bronx. When I came to the Mohawk Valley I attended Herkimer County Community College and graduated with an A.A.S. degree in Travel & Tourism. However, my career took a turn towards the healthcare field after my daughter was born. Since then, I have been working for 25 years at Excellus BCBS, Utica plan.
Upon my arrival to Oneida County back in 1990, I realized that while there were many Latinos in this area, there was not enough awareness regarding different educational or cultural services to guide them towards resources for assistance and a better quality of l life. Due to the Language barriers were the main impediments to Latinos seeking assistance when needed. This does not mean that anyone is at fault. Latinos are proud people. This makes it difficult for the Latino culture to seek the help from persons that do not speak the same language. I have raised two children, Cristina (29), Michael (23) and have two grandchildren, Cristian (10) and Gabriel (3).
One of the many reasons for forming the Mohawk Valley Latino Association (MVLA ) was to unite the Latino community to have one voice. There were many times that I spent helping someone with different needs, such as housing, the department of motor vehicle, immigration, healthcare, social services, court and/or employment issues. Whether it’s a person that has been here all their lives or a newcomer, someone is always in need of help and/or information. MVLA will be there for everyone that needs assistance. My long range goal is to see the MVLA agency become a common household name in the Latino community of the Mohawk Valley area, and other communities, to be a place to find answers to common questions, just as other cultures get their questions, answered. The Mohawk Valley is the mosaic of cultures and welcomes everyone to visit or raise a family.
I am a member of different community boards, such as Boys Scouts of America Revolutionary Trails Council, Mohawk Valley Non-Profit Leaders, YWCA Mohawk Valley, Rebuild Mohawk Valley/Municipal Housing Agency, NAACP Oneida County Branch, NIA Group of Utica “Renaissance Center” (past member), Utica Public Library, and Upstate Latino Alliance. Recently was named a member of the Utica’s Mayoral Transition Team of the City of Utica by Mayor Robert Palmieri.
I believe the footsteps made have led me to reach the goal of creating this organization, the Mohawk Valley Latino Association, and with the help of the other members of the organization we can meet the community’s needs as they arise. My commitment is to improve housing opportunities, advocate improving programs for seniors and youth, and creating educational and job opportunities for the Latino community and other minority cultures in the Mohawk Valley region.
Contact Information: C. Sonia Martinez, 307 French Road, Utica, NY 13502 Telephone: 315-542-2561