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Mt. Hood Unida continues building community posted on 10/01/2022

When it comes to favorite holidays, Dia de los Muertos is right up there for Cristina Saldivar, Vice President of Mt. Hood Unida, a local nonprofit organization with a mission to unite community and empower Latinos.

“It is a day that we, in Mexico and almost all Latin American countries, remember those that we have lost,” Saldivar said. “Every country, every community, every town does that a little bit differently.”

Mt. Hood Unida will offer the Mountain community a chance to celebrate and remember from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Wildwood Recreation Area, 65670 Hwy. 26 in Welches, for its Dia de los Muertos celebration. There is no admission fee for the event and refreshments will be provided.

The group held the event for the first time last year, and Saldivar noted that the community altar, where people can place photos or mementos of lost loved ones, will be back.

“A community and its members need a space to grieve,” she said, noting the event also offers a way to celebrate memories of loved ones. “You can really feel the collective grief and the collective joy. I think that’s what’s really special.”

The event will also feature live music by a mariachi band and artwork created by Welches Middle School students as part of Mt. Hood Unida’s Una Voz program, where students meet every Wednesday after school to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of the Latinx community on the Mountain.

“We are getting a lot of positive feedback,” said Maria Burke, Mt. Hood Unida President, who noted her daughter relayed how much students are enjoying it. “We’ve had so much fun doing the project and the kids are loving it.”

The program received grant funding from the Dr. Martens Foundation and both Saldivar and Burke, sisters who grew up on the Mountain and attended Welches Schools, hope to find more grant opportunities to do more after school programs.

“I would have loved something like this when I went to Welches,” Burke said.

The organization also wants to build on its relationship with the community by partnering with other agencies to provide services, including medical, dental and mental health needs, for the Latinx community on the Mountain.

“Now that Mt. Hood Unida established a connection with the mountain community, we, at Mt. Hood Unida, are excited to find ways to serve its Latino population,” Saldivar said. “Mt. Hood Unida is aware of the unmet medical, dental and mental health needs within the population. We are very passionate about establishing partnerships with agencies to meet those needs. We know when these basic needs are met, the whole community will thrive.”

For more information on Mt. Hood Unida programs and to find how to get involved, visit https://www.mthoodunida.org/ and find the organization on Facebook and Instagram.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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