Enlace de Familias mission is to develop, lead and promote organizing in Holyoke. We aim to train the residents of Holyoke, especially in the lowest income neighborhoods, to be the center and guiding force of the transformation of school reform and other policies that have an impact on them and their families.
The founding of Enlace de Familias:
Enlace was originally created in 1994 as a coalition of families, representatives for service providers, and other stakeholders, focused on building a healthy and safe community for children. The coalition’s initial aim was to improve the public schools in Holyoke and encourage a 100% graduation rate citywide.
Enlace’s efforts were initially funded by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) because of the high number of cases of child abuse and neglect in Holyoke. As the coalition continued its work, it realized that the community was in need of other resources and services. In response to that need, the coalition expanded its vision and programs accordingly.
In April of 2007, Betty Medina Lichtenstein, the Executive Director of Enlace, founded Holyoke Unites/Holyoke Se Une in order to build a network of service providers to problem-solve the pressing needs in the Holyoke community.
Although Holyoke Unites and Enlace have continued to widened their focus, the foundation of bringing service providers and families together to affect direct and indirect change still stands.
Who does Enlace provide services to?
While our mission statement does not specifically target a certain demographic, Enlace de Familias generally works with residents from the downtown neighborhoods in Holyoke. These neighborhoods are made up of predominately Latino and low-income families, 99% of whom receive public assistance, Mass Health, food stamps, and/or fuel assistance. Often we assist families in crisis, and this can involve a number of issues. Our goal is to come up with solutions for these families or refer them to someone who can. Through the generous funds of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC), our culturally sensitive staff is able to serve the community that we live and work in.