First Posted: 10/31/2012 7:40:42 PM | Last Updated: 11/1/2012 10:10:05 AM
LAFAYETTE – As an attorney for Ball Eggleston, Carlos Carrillo could be doing just about anything with his free time in the Greater Lafayette area.
But Carrillo, a Lafayette Jefferson High School graduate, spends part of his free time offering free legal seminars for the Latino community as part of his commitment to the Latino Center for Wellness and Education, a nonprofit organization that promotes health awareness, integration and information to improve the quality of life in the local Latino community.
LCWE, formerly the Latino Coalition of Tippecanoe County, was recognized by the Greater Lafayette Commerce’s Diversity Roundtable in September with the DRT Diversity Leader Award for outstanding work in diversity in Tippecanoe.
“The purpose of LCWE is to help the Latino community,” Carrillo said. “The last two years we’ve been in more of a supportive role. We help in education, health and wellness. We use to assist in bilingual services and provide other services. Now that we have a younger board with younger professionals, we’re taking a different strategy.”
Carrillo said that strategy is to play a role in guiding Latinos to services already available in the community instead of duplicating what already exist. He said that has allowed LCWE to focus on youth and other concerns in the community.
“One of the main things we do is raise money for scholarships,” Carrillo said. “Our president, Cynthia Longoria, is involved with EL SWAG, a program for young people. I do the free law seminars and answer questions people may have.”
Carrillo can relate to many of the students in EL SWAG, graduating from Lafayette Jeff in 2001. He was born in Chicago and lived in Mexico from ages 2-9 before his family moved to Lafayette. He attended Wabash College and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) law school in 2008.
EL SWAG, a mentoring program, is done in collaboration with Delta Pi Pho fraternity and Delta Phi Mu sorority. EL SWAG is an acronym for Empowering Latinos for Success Wellness and Academic Growth. The program aims to improve academic achievement, self-esteem, social competence and avoidance of risky behavior among Latino youth.
Organizers said with having college students involved and facilitating discussions, they hope to create a more relaxed environment for Latino youth to open up, ask questions and seek advice. A two-hour monthly program with EL SWAG consist is several sessions and a dinner break.
Promotores de Salud and Dia de la Mujer Latina are free health issues programs sponsored by LCWE, along with the Hanna Community Center and Ivy Tech Community College. Participants receive free health information. Board member Veronica Jalomo, health coordinator with Indiana Minority Health Coalition of Tippecanoe County is involved with the program.
Carrillo’s free legal seminars touch on topics including criminal law, wills, notaries and legal rights.
Carrillo said a free community-wide Christmas party held in December, usually at the YWCA, draws a good cross section of people from the community.
Carrillo said the organization’s website ( www.lcwetippecanoe.com ) and newsletter (El Grito) is helping spread the word about LCWE. The organization established an office at Ivy Tech’s Renaissance Instructional Center downtown, at 250 Main St.
The LCWE’s main fundraiser is the Tippecanoe Latino Festival, which has been held at Ivy Tech’s campus. The festival, bringing together a Latino flavor of entertainment and culture, had been held in April until this year when it was moved to September in celebration with Hispanic Heritage Month.
Carrillo said while LCWE was happy with the move, the usual crowd was down from previous years. He said he believe the crowds will return once people become more aware of the date change. He said there is serious thought about moving the festival to downtown Lafayette instead of holding it on the Ivy Tech campus on Creasy Lane.
Carrillo said he hopes the move to date and location will encourage more participation from Purdue University students. He said the change could draw new people since downtown Lafayette is already a popular festival destination for the Greater Lafayette residents throughout the summer.
“We really appreciate Ivy Tech’s commitment to us and the work we’re doing,” Carrillo said. “That support has been beneficial.”
Along with Carrillo, Longoria, Jalomo, other LCWE board members include Edith Gallegos; Javier Campos, treasurer; Manuel Vela, Carlos Bonilla, Kendall Leon and Morgan Carrillo.