The Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center at West 89th and Willard hosted its 2011 Festival of Light on Saturday, June 18th. The festival featured free food, health and community resources, entertainment and activities for youth.
Pastor Max Rodas of the Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center says the Congregation of the Nueva Luz Nazarine Church and the Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center put on the festival to thank people in the neighborhood “for allowing us to be part of the community.” Rodas says this is the 12th year of the festival.
Among the organizations with booths at the festival were the Council on Economic Opportunities’ Willard Head Start Program, West Tech Lofts, Neighborhood Family Practice and the Cuyahoga County Employment and Family Services’ Healthy Start Program.
Rodas says the outreach efforts of the Nueva Luz Nazarine Congregation began in 1999 with Proyecto Luz a program designed to “reduce the negative impact of HIV/AIDS in the Cleveland Latino community.” The programs offered by Nueva Luz have since expanded to include a Fatherhood Initiative, a Youth Outreach and a Community Outreach Program. The Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center now has 24 staff members involved in its various outreach programs.
The Youth Outreach Program serves about 35 youths in after school and summer programs. Rodas says the youths go camping and on trips outside the neighborhood to introduce them to the world beyond their immediate neighborhood. The seven adults involved with the program work with youths to assure that they all finish high school and go on to college, says Rodas.