Not far from the spacious homes, there is a mobile home park that has 600 spaces with older single wide mobile homes. Typically, Latino families live five people per room in these mobile home parks because it costs about $1,200 a month for the mobile home space. A two-bedroom apartment nearby can be rented for a minimum of $2,200 a month.
For 23 years, Pastor Josue Rubio has lived in Eagle County with his wife, who is also a pastor. Emigrating from Chihuahua, Mexico, the two established New Life Christian Center when they moved to Colorado and since then they’ve worked hard to provide opportunities for Latino families and youth to grow and have better lives.
“When my wife and I first started our annual Christmas toy drive, we would sell tamales to be able to fundraise money to purchase toys, food, and basic essentials for families,” shared Pastor Rubio. Now, they have been able to expand their toy drive to be able to help more than 100 families every Christmas.
Pastor Rubio’s biggest effort for his community came after his fellowship with the Hispanic Leadership Network, a leadership development program from Hispanic Access. After six months, he passionately led a discussion with his peers and the team about how he planned to pull from his peers, partners, and the resources he gained from Hispanic Access to establish a nonprofit that addressed the looming issues faced by the Latino community in Eagle. In 2020, in the wake of COVID-19, Pastor Rubio established the Vida Foundation. He applied and received a three-year grant from the Colorado Health Foundation.
According to Pastor Rubio, most of the immigrants in Eagle are from Mexico, some undocumented and the jobs they have offer low wages and long hours – esclavitude laboral (slave labor) is how he describes it. There is plenty of work available, but a lack of health care – la gente tiembla cuando están enfermos (people tremble when they are sick). Childcare is unaffordable without any availability of public kindergarten or Headstart programs. A high suicide and substance abuse rate exists among Latino youth. There are no affordable recreation options, especially in the wintertime.
Now, in the mobile home parks, there is an afterschool program that provides nutritious meals and educational programming that promotes self-esteem, values and tutoring. Elementary and high schools have incorporated a homeroom leadership program offered by Vida Foundation that includes recreational field trips to national parks and local environmental stewardship projects.
When they aren’t exploring the outdoors, they are learning about the morals and values that are needed to succeed and contribute to communities. Pastor Rubio hopes to expand the type of activities they offer as they just purchased a property where he envisions an indoor soccer field and climbing wall for the community. Soon, he plans to establish a substance abuse recovery support program.
Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and supporting local leaders like Pastor Rubio, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation