EDWARDS, Colo. — Immigrant communities in Eagle County are celebrating this week’s launch of the Vida Foundation, the brainchild of Pastor Josue Rubio of the Vida Nueva Christian Center in Edwards.
The nonprofit aims to address some of the area’s most pressing challenges, including health and safety during the pandemic, food insecurity, education gaps and mental health. Rubio said faith leaders are uniquely positioned to translate lessons taught in church into hands-on work serving those who are most vulnerable.
“We need to do something in our community,” he said. “We need to preach the gospel; at the same time we need to extend our hands with the poor, with the orphans, with the homeless.”
The new nonprofit’s first program will be ‘Take My Hand,’ where volunteers prepare healthy after-school snacks for elementary-age kids from families who struggle to put food on the table. Vida Foundation also has partnered with local public schools to help build middle-school students’ confidence, provide basic vocational skills and improve education outcomes. The group has plans for a mental-health and well-being initiative through outdoor recreation and stewardship, as well as a sobriety program.
Rubio is a recent graduate of the Hispanic Leadership Network’s inaugural class, which tapped a diverse group of 25 leaders from across the nation. The 10-month program was created by the Hispanic Access Foundation. Maite Arce, the foundation’s president and chief executive, said faith leaders are an important and trusted resource in communities, because they’re on the front lines.
“This program was developed in order to build their capacity, provide educational tools and resources, help them to develop community partnerships, and build a peer mentor network of support,” she said.
Rubio said the Hispanic Leadership Network was key for getting the nonprofit up and running, in part because it helped him connect with a pastor doing similar work in Arizona.
“For a pastor, it is very good to have a network,” he said. “Every pastor tries to be better, but sometimes we need to find people around the country that they are doing the same, like you wanted.”
Editor’s note: This story was produced by Public News Service.