Social Services/Program Coordinator, Casa San Jose, St. Austin Center

Casa San Jose hosted its yearly back-to-school fair on Sunday, August 14, 2023, with a mission to help a unique community of new immigrants at Brookdale Village Apartments and surrounding complexes in Houston’s East End prepare their children for school.

HISD’s enrollment bus, along with area schools, social services agencies, clinics, and cultural organizations were present to provide resources and information to families.

This year we made some changes to the event, including moving the location from directly in front of our Casa San Jose apartment to a more central location within the complex. This helped more people attend the fair. With the help and support of the property manager, we also managed to secure the leasing office for eye exams.

To prepare for the event, our staff met with various organizations to discuss the needs and challenges facing new immigrant children in enrolling and attending school. One simple way we addressed the access problem was by deciding again to host the fair on a Sunday, when families are home after a burdensome work week.

We estimated that about 45 children were enrolled in school. Another 30 got school immunizations, with about 15 adults being vaccinated or boosted against COVID. Many more visited vendor booths.

One special guest, Benito Juarez with the Mayor of Houston’s Office of New Americans, who also speaks the Maya language, attended with the “Alianza Guatemalteca.” They provided authentic Guatemalan food to vendors and the community. It was a successful and worthwhile event.

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