Hispanic Task Force volunteers take a break during flyer distribution to have some ‘coco frio’ (fresh coconut milk) on a hot day.

By Laura Tamayo

In late 2019, a team of determined people created the Hispanic Task Force of Hillsborough County. While this county does have a rich history of having Hispanic communities, a new wave of immigrants has come into the area and they are facing unique challenges that do not affect the more established segments of the Hispanic population. This organization was created to help alleviate their challenges.

“The goal of the Hispanic Task Force is to help the emerging Hispanic communities in Hillsborough County find their voice by engaging them into the political process. This starts with getting counted in the census and registering to vote,” explained group leader Javier Guerrero.

The group, although new, has already had over 50 volunteers assist the Hispanic Task Force through different ways, such as phone banking, translating and much more.

With the pandemic, the Hispanic Task Force is somewhat limited in how it can help, but it’s been able to pass out flyers that spread awareness of its mission, help people register to vote over the phone and has held Zoom meetings to debate important issues.

On August 15, the organization held a town hall meeting on Zoom in which leaders discussed the 2020 census, methods to avoid COVID-19 and the reopening of schools in the area. Fully done in Spanish to reach any person who is not well-versed in English, Guerrero, Jose Pares-Avila and Karen Perez gave multiple tips on how to easily fill out the census and how to keep any school-going children safe from COVID-19.

Verbally raising alertness over critical topics is just the beginning for this organization; it hopes that in the future it can have an impact on subjects from urban planning to affordable housing to earning a livable wage. To do this, it needs as much help as possible.

Despite the name, any volunteer is accepted and appreciated at the Hispanic Task Force.

“All you need is to be willing to devote some of your time to this project. We have all walks of life on our team, but more often than not all that is needed is to be willing to walk the less travelled path, to be willing to meet the person, those who look and sound different than us,” said Guerrero.

To find more information or to volunteer, go to https://hillsboroughcountydemocrats.org/ and fill out the volunteer form.