When COVID-19 arrived on U.S. shores it was no surprise that the most vulnerable communities were hit the hardest. Our program staff witnessed many of our clergy experience the loss of loved ones, suffered financial hardships themselves along with the congregants and community they serve. One leader in our cohort, Linda Sosa took it upon herself to boldly hold her state’s Governor’s office accountable for the insufficient roll out of vaccinations for the Latino community. When Linda was interviewed regarding how she was able to step up and begin her outreach and work with vaccinations she quickly responded that, “Being part of the Hispanic Leadership Network had given her the tools, confidence, and support to be a leader in her church and community.” Since the conversation with her governor, Linda and her team have vaccinated more than 39,000 people and they are not finished with this important work.
Josue Rubio, another leader from the same Hispanic Leadership Network cohort that Linda is a part of, happens to pastor in the mountainous region of Eagle County, Colorado, where access to COVID-19 for communities of color has been very limited. Linda and Josue have cultivated such a wonderful collegial friendship, sharing ideas, and plans to collaborate to serve their communities in Colorado that Josue, inspired by Linda’s work, asked for her assistance to open up his church as a vaccination site. Linda graciously drove 5 hours to visit with him and his team, reached out to her contacts at the governor’s office and is now helping coordinate vaccinations in Eagle County!
Witnessing Linda Sosa grow exponentially as an influential leader has demonstrated how immensely impactful Latino leaders can be when they are well equipped, consitently connected, and fervently supported by a program that offers leadership development, relevant trainings, vital resources, and have the opportunity to cultivate collegial friendships. Her story has inspired our team to work harder to serve and provide what Latino clergy need in order to thrive because when they thrive their communities will too.
Our Thriving in Ministry program team has had many unexpected outcomes not just by impacting pastoral leaders and their communities, but also as Linda says, “We are literally saving lives.” Linda’s leadership inspired us to support pastoral leaders in other communities to respond to the COVID-19 crisis through fundraising efforts to support the replication and expansion of this work. We are now equipping 10 other leaders from our Hispanic Leadership Network in urban and rural communities to expand access to vaccines. And guess who is training them? Linda Sosa of course. One committed program, one supported leader, and one enormous tidal wave impact on Latino communities across the nation.
Written by Christine Tamara, Director of Partner Engagement at Hispanic Access Foundation.