2009 Latino Heritage Unsung Heroes
El Tecolote Newspaper
Juan Gonzales is founder/editor and columnist for El Tecolote, a bi-weekly, bilingual newspaper published in San Francisco's Mission District since 1970. He is department chair of journalism at City College of San Francisco where he teaches courses in mass communications, news writing, feature writing, and newspaper production. Gonzales also serves as adviser to the campus newspaper, The Guardsman. He is a member of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, the San Francisco Newspaper Association, and the Community Press Consortium. He is a founding member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Publications, the Association of Raza Media Alternatives, the National Association of Third World Journalists/Bay Area Chapter, and New American Media. Gonzales has an A.A. degree in journalism from San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, a B.A. degree in journalism from San Francisco State University, and an M.A. degree in mass communications from Stanford University. At one time he was a full-time general assignment reporter for United Press International/S.F. bureau and Associated Press/S.F. bureau.
Gonzales's work in San Francisco's Mission District is expansive. He is one of five Mission District cultural activists who, in 1982, founded El Encuentro de Canto Popular, an annual festival of Latin American folk music. He is founder and board president of the Mission's Acción Latina, a non-profit information, education, and cultural organization. Furthermore, he is founder of the Mission Legacy Project, which honors community activists through audio and video documentation, and which plans to create a historical archive of the district.
Gonzales is director of the Voices for Justice Project that will document the history of the Latino press in the U.S. by producing a film, book, and website. Through his work as an educator and a community journalist, Gonzales has opened up countless internship opportunities for aspiring journalists in the neighborhood press of San Francisco.
The daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, Hernández was born in Los Angeles and has lived in the Mission for fourteen years. Motivated by her own experiences, Hernández has dedicated herself to sharing the transformative power of education and the arts with youth of color for nearly twenty years. She has worked with numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Jamestown Community Center, Children's Book Press, and Making Waves. She currently serves as executive director at GirlSource, a nonprofit that provides meaningful education, work, and leadership opportunities for low-income young women.
Hernández, the first in her family to attend college, earned a B.A. in English from Scripps College. The discovery of Latino literature informed a sense of possibility in her that changed her life. Upon graduation, she was inspired to teach youth to be knowledgeable about and to celebrate Latino histories and cultures. Hernández later received her M.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and advanced to Ph.D. candidacy. She has taught courses in women's studies and Latino literature at the University of Pennsylvania and San Francisco State University.
Hernández is a published writer and has performed her music-infused poetry throughout the United States and in El Salvador. Her writing has appeared in newspapers, literary journals, and anthologies, including Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo and Latino Literature Today. As part of a delegation of U.S.-based Salvadoran artists, she traveled to El Salvador to perform among various communities. She later returned to present an essay for El Salvador's Ministry of Culture on Youth Development and Art as Violence Prevention. Most recently, the San Francisco Arts Commission awarded Hernández a grant to complete a poetry collection and spoken word CD entitled Mucha Muchacha: Too Much Girl, due to be completed in 2010.
Saúl Hidalgo L.
Jamestown Community Center
A Mission District native, Saúl Hidalgo L. is a marriage and family therapy intern who created and currently directs Treehouse, a program of the Jamestown Community Center. Jamestown is a nonprofit that aims to provide youth with the support, opportunities, and skills necessary to guide them in making positive life decisions. The development of Treehouse came about when Hidalgo L. identified a lack of safe spaces for youth when it came to emotional expression and positive male support and mentoring. This weekly program gives youth a chance to meet with each other and trusted adults to discuss the challenges of growing up in the Mission, healthy ways to express their feelings, and how to avoid risky behaviors such as substance abuse, gang violence, and unsafe sex.
While Treehouse started as a support group for young men, Hidalgo L. soon realized that the group meetings alone were not enough and began offering individualized therapy and case management services. Since then, he has extended his services to include parents and families. Hidalgo L. has also expanded Treehouse to include a girls support group in response to requests from some of Jamestown's young women. As a result, Treehouse is teaching a generation of youth and their families how to lead healthier lifestyles, express their emotions positively, and access the support they need.
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