Hays Latinos United (HLU) is a community organization formed as a direct response to the racial disparities of the Latino community and other people of color which emerged with the on-set of COVID-19. From the start of the pandemic, LATINOS were asked to be at the front lines of the pandemic, when the State of Texas opened up, again Latinos were asked to return to work with minimal protections for them and their families.
The organization provides free PPE, water, food, COVID testing, COVID information, COVID vaccine registration and most recently COVID vaccines with assistance from private health entities contracted through the state. All of our efforts are done to assist to the community and continues to grow. We have provided over 300 events in the last 2 years. The platform of the organization focuses on four initiatives, Education, Wellness, Prevention and Access.
The Hays Latinos United initiatives are interrelated. First by providing Education of the health concerns of the Latino community equips the community with the power through knowledge of how to take their health and their families health seriously. This leads to providing a healthy state of Wellness in furthering proactive changes in their own lifestyle choices and promoting Prevention of illness. However, in case illness does impact our Latino community, we want to ensure that Access is available and finances is not the deciding factor if someone lives or dies.
Today, Latinos continue to be the victim to misinformation and limited access to COVID vaccines and testing.
Our wish is to continue broadening our outreach and continue to vaccinate the Hays County community through are grassroots events and to be a resource for the rural areas of Hays county and provide access to those resources. No ask is too small or too big for HLU.
Dr. Michelle Cohen, DM
My name is Dr. Michelle Cohen, I have a Bachelors in Business Management with a minor in
Finance, a Masters of Business ( MBA), Doctorate in Management in Organizational Leadership and an ordained minister. My dissertation is titled "Breaking Barriers: A Qualitative Narrative Inquiry of Hispanic Women in Community Leadership Achievement in Central Texas” which is published in the Library of Congress.
Fast forwarding to 2020, the COVID pandemic was ravaging the world and our Hispanic
population was suffering. The call to do something, once again took over me. From this need to help, Hays Latinos United was founded. With the help of other community leaders in the area we began PPE events to provide a basic lifesaving mechanism to the underserved and
underrepresented people in our county.
Our efforts transitioned into COVID testing, food and water distributions, and finally COVID vaccines. It has been almost a full year since our inception, and we have had over 70 events in east Hays County continuing to provide these resources and eliminate the misinformation happening within our Latino communities. Our events would not have been possible without the contributions of community members, volunteers, small and big businesses, health clinics and many others. My heart is indebted to everyone that has helped our organization save lives every day. Servant leadership happens in many forms, and my advice is do not ignore or be afraid of the call to serve.