“Carnaval Pagano Peruano en Queens”

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Queens Courier: “Queens groups win Union Square Award”

Queens Courier.com

“Queens groups win Union Square Award”

By Daysi Salavia-Lopez

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Grassroots organizations often have a difficult time getting projects up and running due to lack of funding, but for two groups from Jackson Heights, Alianza Ecuatoriana Internacional and Pachamama Peruvian Arts, things just got a little bit easier.

Both groups won the prestigious Union Square Award. The Alianza Ecuatoriana Internacional was awarded the Union Square Award for social justice and granted $50,000, while Pachamama Peruvian Arts was awarded the Union Square Arts Award and granted $35,000.

“Union Square Award recipients make extraordinary contributions to the City in spite of their limited financial resources,” said Iris Morales, executive director of the Union Square Awards. “They emerge at the grassroots to tackle our most pressing problems from homelessness and hunger to HIV/AIDS, and their work strengthens low-income families and neighborhoods. They provide vital programs not otherwise available especially in difficult economic times.”

Luz Pereira, executive director of Pachamama Peruvian Arts, took matters into her own hands and wrote a letter about her organization to the Union Square Awards.

“You have no idea what this means for us,” Pereira said. “We’re in a new stage where we can really improve our services.”

Pachamama Peruvian Arts was founded by Pereira in 2004. Through classes in Peruvian folkloric dance, at Public School 212 on 82nd Street and 34th Avenue, the group has built leadership and instilled pride for Peruvian culture in the participating children. The classes are offered for children between the ages of six and 17. The classes are given every Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and are free to the public.

“We picked this school because this is where the majority of Latin American people of medium to low-income live,” Pereira said. “But we are open to everyone not only Peruvians, and now that we received this money we can can expand our classes and offer adults the opportunity to participate as well.”

Walter Sinche from La Alianza Ecuatoriana Internacional was also thrilled to have won an award. His organization helps to educate people on ways to prevent hate crimes. It also offers tutoring classes for children whose parents work and can’t help them with their homework after school. In addition, the organization provides guidance about immigration issues.

“Before this, no one had given us a single dollar,” Sinche said. “Now we can expand the services we provided for the community and continue to help more and more people.”

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