Newsletter November – December 2017



La Casa’s Family Resource Center


(FRC) offers direct support to walk-in clients at no cost Mon–Fri, 9am to 5pm, plus evening hours three nights a week. Call 805-965-8581.




Sabaditos Saludables:  Get Whole Health with La Casa


What does it mean to have whole health? How can we all be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally? How do we navigate legal and bureaucratic processes that require technical knowledge and aren’t always in a language we’re most comfortable with? How can we alleviate suffering?


Sabaditos Saludables is La Casa de La Raza’s answer to those questions—to finding answers together. Every other Saturday, starting January 2018, La Casa’s Family Resource Center will host bilingual workshops and support groups for adults and youth. The bimonthly series will address immigration and legal rights and responsibilities, mental and physical wellness, cultural arts, and self-care. Workshops will be free for participants, and La Casa expects to serve up to 200 families.


“Now More Than Ever”: Help La Casa Keep Giving Hope

Every month, some 2,000 people—many needing support unavailable elsewhere—walk through the doors of La Casa de La Raza. Within Casa’s walls, they find a staff dedicated to meeting their needs. They are connected with resources and knowledge to manage their physical and mental health. They are guided through difficult processes like gaining citizenship or insurance. They find diverse community groups that weave a fabric of support—a fabric that holds many who may otherwise fall through the cracks. For nearly five decades, La Casa has been there for one of the most isolated and underserved groups in Santa Barbara’s community.


It’s no wonder, then, that La Casa was selected as one of the nonprofits supported by SB Gives!, a new project of The Santa Barbara Independent and The Fund for Santa Barbara raising funds through the holiday season.


Maria Ofelia Lopez came to La Casa when her diabetes was out of control. She couldn’t afford needed medication, and tears of despair and futility had become a part of her daily life. La Casa helped her get insurance, enrolled her in the center’s nutrition classes, and guided her to where she is today—feeling healthy and managing her illness. La Casa also aided Lopez and her husband in obtaining US citizenship.


For Ofelia Lopez, la Casa’s solution-oriented, caring staff is unique and important. “They make us all feel safe, respected, and most important, they make us feel like we are family,” she says. “They always give you hope. We need la Casa now more than ever.”


You can ensure that La Casa is able to continue assisting its 21,000 visitors a year—to continue giving hope—by giving to La Casa’s SB Gives campaign, which runs through December 31. Visit



Respect, Tradition, and Martial Arts en La Casa


“Everything you learn here is for getting to know and respect yourself. That’s when you start knowing and respecting others.” This is one of the lessons martial arts instructor Victor Gutierrez shares with his students.

Students learn martial arts at La Casa with instructor Victor Gutierrez (far right).

Gutierrez has teamed up with La Casa de La Raza to offer martial arts instruction, primarily taekwondo, five days a week. Also on offer, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA. For Gutierrez, the classes are about building community—providing for the youth alternatives to activities like gangs and drugs. He’s witnessed a promising difference in young people who practice martial arts and the example they can set for peers.


Plus, martial arts practice teaches life skills like discipline, self-confidence, coordination, and balance. Gutierrez adds that, while he tells students what they learn is for use in class and never at school, feeling confident in the rare occasion when self-defense is required is important.


Martial arts have drawn Gutierrez since childhood. His father was a boxer, but his mother worried and discouraged him from following that path. Still, “It’s in my blood,” Gutierrez says. When, at 17, he emigrated from Mexico to the US, he first put it in the hard work of learning English and then took an opportunity to follow his heart, joining Royal Kickboxing, along with his nephew.


The classes at La Casa are mixed ages. Combining adults and kids works well, enabling the adults to set the example and providing a greater understanding of the effort and practice it takes to learn a tradition. In the future, as the martial arts program at La Casa grows, Gutierrez envisions a program that will enable people without an income source to participate—“to do something good for their lives.”


These two students of Gutierrez won gold at a Salvadoran taekwando tournament in LA on December 3.

To join a class or learn more, stop by La Casa’s Youth Center or call Gutierrez at 805/252–1297 or 336–8790.




Día de Los Muertos: Preserving Culture


For decades, celebrating Día de Los Muertos has been a tradition at La Casa de La Raza. That fits in perfectly with the part of La Casa’s mission statement that promises to preserve Mexican culture.


La Casa’s celebration is community-oriented, focused on respect for tradition, and steers away from commercialized aspects of the celebration. Each year, a few altars represent regions of Mexico, such as Puebla and Oaxaca.  Other altars are a fusion of Mexican American culture.


The volunteer committee starts to prepare in August, with a collective from 15 to 30 strong. By the last few days before Día de Los Muertos, some 60 to 80 make ofrendas of fresh marigolds. Traditional tamales from different regions are a part of the day. And all who attend receive Pan de Muerto as a gift, welcoming them to La Casa.


Attendance this year was around 1,100 strong, and as usual the vibe was warm, traditional, and inviting.


Altars from regions around Mexico, preservation of culture, ofrendas of fresh marigolds, traditional food, and a gift of Pan de Muertos for all in attendance have long been part of the tradition of celebrating Día de los Muertos at La Casa.



Message from the board


The Board of La Casa de La Raza.


As we approach the Holiday Season, I want to wish you and your familias a very Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo.


As 2017 comes to a close so does the financial reorganization La Casa de la Raza has been going through this past year and one-half. Soon we will be reaching out to our old and new supporters to get your ideas and suggestions on how to strengthen the services and programs we deliver to our communities. Until then, my request is a simple one—please continue to support La Casa de la Raza by attending our events, and in the spirit of giving, donate to La Casa.


La Casa de la Raza was recently selected by The Santa Barbara Independent and the Fund for Santa Barbara as one of the recipients of the Santa Barbara Gives! fundraising drive. To donate, simply go to, click on the donate button, find La Casa de La Raza, indicate how much you wish to donate, and provide the required information.


Your donation, no matter the size, will help us continue to provide our families and our youth with an umbrella of services. We continue to have over 2,000 people walking through our doors monthly. The needs of our communities are real and growing. Que Viva La Casa de La Raza!


—Michael Gonzalez, Board President