The Town of Babylon has appointed nine people to the revitalized Hispanic American Advisory Board, which will be assigned such tasks as helping residents understand their rights and informingthem of resources available in the community.
Deputy Town Supervisor Tony Martinez, who will run the advisory board, said with the growing number of Hispanics in the community, it was the perfect time to bring in people to help advise the town.
“This will be a vehicle at the end for them to share what is happening in their communities with us and for them to come up with solutions and ideas on how best to communicate with them,” Martinez said about the group.
Hispanics and Latinos make up 21% of the population of Babylon Town, according to the U.S. Census. Hamlets such as Copiague and Wyandanch are among areas with growing Hispanic and Latino communities, Martinez said.
The members were approved following the March 11 town board meeting and will meet Wednesday, a town spokesman said. Advisory board members, all of whom are unpaid, will include people who have backgrounds in religion, community work and business.
David Nunez, an accountant in Copiague and a member of the board, said some Hispanics are afraid to come forward and ask questions. He believes this group will help change the narrative.
“Hispanics, we feel a lot better dealing and doing business and talking to people that understand our culture a lot better than people that don’t,” Nunez, 48, said. “It’s like that for any nationality or culture.”
Yaryl Gonzalez works as a community liaison for Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights). As a member of the advisory board, Gonzalez said she wants to build trust.
“You go in and build that relationship where they can trust you, not just ‘Oh, here’s the government trying to talk to you,’ because maybe they associate that with maybe immigration being called on them or something like that,” Gonzalez, 26, said. “The most important thing is having a safe space for them and building a relationship where they can trust you.”
Zoraida Santiago, another member of the board and a stay-at-home mom in North Babylon, has seen the need for this kind of group. Santiago said about eight years ago she started a Latin night at her child’s school and saw how well it was received in the community.
“I want to hear what other Hispanics in my community have to say and then I want to transfer that to the town,” Santiago said.
Members of the Hispanic American Advisory Board
- Jose Batista, community advocate
- The Rev. William Brisotti, member of the Wyandanch Clergy Association
- Christian Gomez, Town of Babylon Attorney’s Office
- Yaryl Gonzalez, community liaison for Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre
- Alex Guzman, owner of Compare Supermarket in Wyandanch
- David Nunez, accountant in Copiague
- Marisol Perez, community coordinator
- Zoraida Santiago, graphic designer
- Pastor Carlos Ventura, Copiague Christian Church
Residents with any questions about the board can email Deputy Town Supervisor Tony Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org