If 2006 was a busy year for the Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center, this coming new year will be filled with greater promises and possibilities. All of our programs experienced some significant changes and made important contributions to community-building efforts. A brief synopsis of some of the above endeavors will suffice to give an idea of the magnitude and intensity of the work and its prospects:
The purchase of 2700 W. Haddon Avenue
This new property, which at different times was a Jewish Synagogue and, more recently, an African-American Church, is in need of major renovation. It will house the Andrés Figueroa Cordero Memorial Library and Community Information Center, the Lolita Lebrón Family Learning Center, the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Museum Archives, and multi-use Performance and Art Center — thus providing us with the opportunity to better serve the community.
The Expansion of the Consuelo Lee Corretjer Childcare Center
The purchase of the above property will permit the Childcare Center the possibility to expand its educational program. It has already partnered with El Valor Corporation in order to provide Headstart services and to expand its population to serve children from 15 months to 5 years of age. This will be possible as the Childcare expands into the space now occupied by the Library; enabling us to provide nearly 50 preschool youngsters with a strong Puerto Rican/Latino focused, dual-language, community-centered educational program.
More Extensive Educational Services at Lolita Lebrón Family Learning Center
The move to the new building by the Lolita Lebrón Family Learning Center will give this program the opportunity to increase its services in a state of the art facility, which will include a student lounge, a children’s room, a children’s reading area, a breastfeeding area for the mothers, and new classrooms and offices.
Greater access to information and knowledge at the Andrés Figueroa Cordero Memorial Library in partnership with the UIUC GISLIS Community Informatics Program
The Andrés Figueroa Cordero Library has been temporarily moved to the first floor of 2703 W. Division, where the master’s degrees community informatics classes will be offered by the UIUC Graduate School of Library Information Sciences (GISLIS). This successful program, inaugurated this past year during the second Community as Intellectual Space conference, offers students at the graduate level the opportunity to engage in community-based librarianship and informatics. Upon the completion of the 2700 W. Haddon building, the Library will become one of the most important technological centers in this area, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican/Latino socio-economic and cultural reality.
The Development of a Technology and Communications Center for La Voz del Paseo Boricua and the Online Radio Station
Once the Andrés Figueroa Cordero Library is established at the new location, the temporary facility at 2703 W. Division will become our first technology and communications center to produce our newspaper, La Voz del Paseo Boricua — one of our more successful initiatives — published monthly with a circulation of 10,000. Also, our youth-oriented radio station, which is presently operating out of Batey Urbano, will be produced and transmitted from that space. Thus we will be able to create a real technology and communication community medium.
The above-projected expansion of our programs and services are indeed a marker of the intensity of this past year’s work. Obviously, we have not included the myriad educational and cultural events that we sponsored this past year, such as the arts and cultural initiatives through the efforts of Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)/New Communities Program (NCP) and BCA programming, or the health and wellness initiatives made possible through partnerships with Mt. Sinai Hospital, CLOCC and the support of the Sprague Foundation.
In terms of our commitment to the core principles that guide our social justice and human rights work, the PRCC was instrumental in the work around the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, including supporting the traveling art exhibit, “Not Enough Space,” as it made its way from Puerto Rico to San Francisco, Michoacan, Mexico to New York City, Cleveland to Vieques. Not to leave out the very powerful interactive exhibit mounted by Batey Urbano, “25 Days for 25 years: Commemorating the Capture of Oscar López.” The PRCC was also actively engaged in many anti-war programs, marches, pickets, and rallies and made clear our solidarity with our undocumented Latino brothers and sisters as we mobilized for the March 10 and May 1st massive demonstrations and then mounting our guard for Elvira Arellano’s right to maintain her sanctuary refuge at the Adalberto UMC in the heart of Paseo Boricua.
Without a doubt, this year has been one filled with much activity, energy, commitment, and vision. 2007 will also be one of accelerated movement and growth as we keep our promise to make our community the heartbeat of the Puerto Rican Diaspora.