Every Thursday afternoon and evening I volunteer at the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market for the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. It’s a great break in the day and I get to meet so many of our South Pasadena friends and neighbors.
One Thursday afternoon I was sitting in the Chamber of Commerce booth and another booth was set up next to mine. I wandered over and introduced myself. At that time I was fortunate enough to meet an extraordinary and giving individual named Janna Philpot – a driving force behind Vecinos de South Pasadena. She was taking the opportunity to spread the word on Vecinos and asking people to get involved.
Vecinos de South Pasadena is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that promotes inclusiveness and prosperity for Latinos, friends and neighbors in South Pasadena and the surrounding communities. A core value of Vecinos de South Pasadena is education. My interest in the group was sparked by the fact that Vecinos collects and donates thousands of dollars in scholarships to South Pasadena students for their college education.
I asked Janna Philpot exactly how Vecinos de South Pasadena got started. Here is the story in her own words, “A few years ago, at a SPEF Party Gras, some of the founders discussed starting an organization for Latinos similar in spirit to the Chinese American Club. Victor Griego, Jorge Rodriquez and Adrian Acevedo held a breakfast meeting at Shakers to formulate a plan of action. In 2004 Vecinos held their first meeting, where Rita Vega-Acevedo was elected as president and the organization was off and running. The organization became incorporated in 2009 and in 2011 it became an official as a non-profit with a IRS 501(c)3 designation. As a funny aside, one founder suggested Los Tigres del Sur de Pasadena as a name of the organization, but a vote was held and Vecinos de South Pasadena was favored by the majority.”
The focus of Vecinos de South Pasadena is squarely on education, arts and culture within the City of South Pasadena. The specific activities of the group can vary at times depending on who is serving on the board of directors. Historically the goal of Vecinos is to provide scholarships for graduating seniors. More recently, the group has welcomed and works with the parents of the Spanish Dual Immersion program at Monterey Hills Elementary School. There are many natural mutual areas of interest – especially in the field of education.
Interested individuals can easily get involved with Vecinos de South Pasadena by joining their mailing list and getting to know them. Perhaps you’ll hear of an event or need that you are well suited to participate in. Since the group is all volunteers, the opportunities for involvement are only limited by the imaginations of those whose participate.
In order to raise funds for student scholarships and local educational support, Vecinos de South Pasadena is holding a fundraising event – open to all. The Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Gala is a fun filled evening of food, live entertainment, face painting and mingling with like-minded neighbors. The Gala will be held on Saturday, November 2nd, 2019 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the War Memorial in South Pasadena. Tickets are $65 per person and include dinner, live entertainment, two drinks (beer or wine), and skull face-painting. Gala attendees must 21 or over – as alcohol will be served.
Proceeds from the evening will not only benefit the Vecinos college scholarship fund, but will also help fund community activities sponsored throughout the year in the fields of education, arts and culture. The Vecinos Day of the Dead Gala is the one of the largest celebrations of Latino culture in South Pasadena bringing together Latinos and non-Latinos alike to honor departed loved ones while serving as a reminder to celebrate life to its fullest.
To find out more or get tickets please visit: southpasadenadayofthedead.com.
Here’s what Janna Philpot sees as the future for Vecinos de South Pasadena, “I think it would be wonderful for Vecinos to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of adults and children in South Pasadena, be it through music, food, culture or education. We want residents to not just know, but to feel the positive influence Latinos and Latino culture has to offer.”
If you are interested in learning more about the scholarship funds available through Vecinos, the criteria for scholarships can be found at: https://vecinosdesouthpasadena.org/scholarship-application-info.
Students can find the application online at the above link, download it, then submit the completed form along with an official transcripts to be considered for a Vecinos scholarship.
I fully support Vecinos de South Pasadena with my time and money. It’s a worthwhile organization of selfless volunteers doing great things for the City of South Pasadena and our students. I hope that some of you will support them as well.