Bay Area nonprofit Ayudando Latinos a Sonar celebrates 10 years of helping Half Moon Bay farmworkers, families

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HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) — When the Half Moon Bay community was devastated by tragedy earlier this year, nonprofit Ayudando Latinos a Sonar, aka ALAS, played a critical role in helping farm workers and their families.

For years though, the organization has been a huge part of the Latino community.

Saturday night, ALAS celebrated its 10th anniversary.

It was an evening to celebrate Mexican culture and tradition

MORE: Benefit concert held for Half Moon Bay farmworkers navigating difficult year

It was a night to celebrate the efforts of ALAS for the past 10 years.

Supporters say the nonprofit has helped the Latino community on the coastside grow and thrive — offering cultural arts programs for kids and seniors. It also offers critical services like case management, health services, translation and tutoring.

“ALAS stands for Ayudando Latinos a Sonar, which means ‘helping Latinos dream.’ The acronym also stands for ‘wings.’ That’s what we truly believe in: giving wings to our community,” said Sandra Sencion with ALAS.

Fernando Cervantes is a construction worker. He says ALAS has helped his entire family.

“It is helping the community of Half Moon Bay. Thank you. We appreciate all the help and all the support for us Hispanic people,” Cervantes said.

MORE: Rep. Adam Schiff visits Half Moon Bay to learn about needs of farmworkers

“My grandparents, who are in late 80s, are part of the program for senior citizens right now,” said Ivette Carrasco-Moctezuma.

Saturday night, San Mateo County Supervisor Rob Mueller honored the organization for its service.

He shared this statement:

“Tonight we celebrate the impact of a decade of the cultural programs that ALAS has brought to our community, allowing the children of farmworkers and their neighbors to experience the arts. ALAS makes these programs accessible to families who otherwise might not be able to take music or cultural classes, due to the cost and their families busy work schedules. Such a beautiful example of giving and celebrating family and cultural heritage this Holiday season.”

ALAS has a partnership with 23 farms.

MORE: Public summit at Half Moon Bay Boys and Girls Club to focus on improving lives of farmworkers

Organizers say ALAS has helped the community grow as well as heal.

On stage Saturday night was a special accordion performance by farm workers.

“We are happy to provide music classes on the farm– as healing as music therapy for them,” Sencion said.

That mass shooting and vigils for the farmworkers killed in Half Moon Bay back in January are a painful experience for this community.

VIDEO: ‘Hidden Crisis: Tragedy in Half Moon Bay’ | Watch full special

The mass shooting in Half Moon Bay exposed the deplorable living conditions that some farmworkers endured. Now, officials are looking for a solution.

The tragedy brought awareness to the struggles of farmworkers on the San Mateo County coast.

Many community members appreciate what ALAS has done to help.

“They helped out as much as they could. They gave back to the families that were in need,” said Eddie Arabia.

“Compassion. Their goodness was shown. Their kindness and hard working to support people in every way,” said Carrasco-Moctezuma.

“We’re just grateful to be here today to continue to support our community,” Sencion said.

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