BRYAN, TX — Over at the St. Teresa Parish in Bryan, TX, local organizers say, it's time to address the difficulties Spanish-speaking undocumented people face when registering for a COVID-19 vaccine.
"The Brazos Center Vaccine Hub has a phone-line now, but the problem is that it's only open from 9 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday... this is a real obstacle for working people, working in construction, restaurants, etc." shared Angelita Garcia Alonzo with the Parish Social Ministry at St. Teresa Parish.
"They just may not have the same flexibility as everyone else, they can't always hold on for 5-10 minutes while working their shifts; that's why we're doing this," she added.
Collaborating with other local organizations, St. Teresa Parish has partnered with Brazos Amigos, the Brazos County Vaccine Task Force, and the Brazos Hispanic Form to accomplish their registration goals. One of these organizations, Brazos Amigos, is actually largely run by retired seniors in the area; all helping to get people without internet access, or time, to register for their COVID-19 vaccine.
Utilizing local churches, Alonzo hopes to connect to the community of Guatemalans, Salvadorians, Hondurans, and other Central American immigrants right here in Brazos County.
"While a lot of kids come to A&M to study, a lot of Central and South American immigrants come to Brazos to work; they work and live in the shadows. They work in restaurants cooking, on roofs patching, in motels cleaning, and they do it all to flee the violence and economic instability of their home countries." shared Alonzo.
Turning to the church, Alonzo says places of worship truly aid in their registration efforts, as the local immigrant community tends to be tighter-knit. "They live and operate in a very small radius, because of the language, because of their culture. When it comes to undocumented families, they tend to stay between work and family and church."
In the end, Alonzo wants to express to Brazos locals, that the immigration community is much larger and complex than most realize. Stating, from generation to generation, differences in income, culture, and language has lead to a diverse community that needs a diverse approach to getting registered for their COVID-19 vaccine.
"What people may not understand, is that while we have new generations of immigrants arriving from Latin America, we also have generations of Latinos that have lived in Texas for decades. It's a very complex and diverse community that has been hit especially hard by the pandemic; that's why we are doing this, reaching out to churches, to Evangelical congregations, that many Latin American immigrants already gather at." Alonzo shared with 25 News.
From 4-7 P.M. on March 19, the St. Teresa Parish will be holding a bilingual (Spanish) COVID-10 vaccine registration drive at 1212 Lucky St, Bryan, TX 77803
Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to contact Brazos Amigos at (979) 412-1174 for more information.