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February 28, 2010

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February 28, 2010

My connections to Taller Puertorriqueño began many years ago as a Spanish Teacher for the public schools of Philadelphia. I wanted to bring in authentic cultural realia for my students to appreciate. At the time Taller Puertorriqueño was the only place with a bookstore that would offer what I was looking for, and it still is. It became a place to which I would often recommend my students to visit. I wanted them to take advantage and learn from the the cultural programs Taller offers. Later on, I became the first Museum Teacher that the School District of Philadelphia assigned to Taller Puertorriqueño and served in this capacity for a year. This was an awesome experience. Although I was born in Puerto Rico, all my schooling had been in Philadelphia and in school, no one ever taught us about any Latino culture. In developing the many culture and art lessons for a little over 5,000 students served in a year, I too had learned a lot about my own culture. I will always be grateful to Taller Puertorriqueño for this. I often volunteer at Taller Puertorriqueño throughout the year in whatever capacity is need. The Julia de Burgos bookstore offers the opportunity to for us enrich our personal libraries on an infinite number literary topics in English and/or Spanish. It also offers the opportunity to expand our knowledge base on many cultural issues related to Puerto Ricans and other Latino cultures. The books store amply provides us with a look into the rich cultural diversity among Latinos from the many Spanish speaking countries around the world. Not only does if offer books but also the opportunity to meet a number of well known as well as emerging authors, even young high school authors. Taller Puertorriqueño is much more than just the bookstore. It is also the cultural hub for the surrounding neighborhoods and beyond. It has promoted (and continues to do so) many of the well known Latino artists in the city. It is "El Corazon del Barrio"(The Heart of the Neighborhood, as its logo states.) The Cultural presentations also reaches out to many who are not in the immediate neighborhood. The receptions for opening night of the art exhibits brings people from throughout the city, Latinos and non-Latinos alike. Some of the events even brings visitors from other towns in Pennsylvania as well as New York, Washington, DC. Two of these event the come to mind are the Annual Schomburg Symposium and the Annual Feria del Barrio. The Later is done in partnership with other Latino community organizations. As an educator, however, the programs that are most dear to me are the education programs. The cultural arts programming (CAP) offers young opportunities to learn about culture through the arts and includes tutoring for helping the students improve on their weak areas. The YAP program offers high school students interested in the arts a rich experience for developing their skills and their portfolio. Eventually I became a board member for this community organization. Although I serve on many community boards, I am most proud and privileged to be part of this community organization that takes to heart our children and our culture.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the way I have grown to understand my own culture; the impact it has had on my past students; and the impact on the public that has attended Taller Puertorriqueno's activities.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The enthusiam with which people are brought together for very positive interactions.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Everyone is so committed to the mission and give there very best and over 100%.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

really reach out to more people with a space that would be adequate, expand its staff.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 26, 2010

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February 26, 2010

Taller is an amazing organization and has had a transformative effect for the past thirty-five years on the culture of Philadelphia and on the Latino community. With a focus on Latino graphic arts, Taller has had an impact internationally, nationally and locally, involving everyone from renowned artists to young children in elementary school. Taller has also contributed artistically in literature, poetry and music, blending these with a focus on the graphic arts. The special focus of Taller on children from grade school through high school is especially important. Elementary and high school children participate in after-school programs that develop their artistic skills and also support their academic work. It is the goal of many of these children to further their learning at the college level by attending art institutes and colleges. There is no limit to what Taller could do to provide opportunities for young Latinos and others in the inner-city.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

observing the effect of Taller's after-school arts program on young children from the local schools.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the enthusiasm of so many children, artsits and community leaders in rallying behind the leadership of Taller in many different ways. The programs are rich, innovative and exciting.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

expand its operations through a new facility to serve many more talented and promising young artists.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 26, 2010

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February 26, 2010

Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc. is a unique, special, and great non-profit organization. Since 1974, Taller Puertorriqueño has been an oasis of cultural comfort, a sanctuary for thousands of community members. Although many have found Taller in their youth, Taller has enhanced my world as an adult. Taller continues to be a place to learn about my roots and make cultural connections. You see, I am an adoptee. I was born and raised in New York by very loving and hard working parents. My parents were always open and honest about my adoption. I remember sitting with them as they read to me a “The Family that Grew”, a book about adoption. This children’s book was critical to learning about me, my family, and what it means to be adopted. When I turned 21, my mother gave me this treasured book, and my adoption papers. Such precious gifts! I read this document carefully noting my birth name printed on the front “Marie Quiñones”. I asked my parents if they knew anything about my birth family or their situation. When I asked about the ethnicity of Quiñones, my mother said the only thing the social worker told her, was that I was Irish. Interesting, I thought, yet I was not satisfied. A year later, I started the search for my birthparents. Something very important happened as I began this journey; a friend introduced me to Carmen Febo San Miguel, (Taller’s current Executive Director) who kindly suggested that “Quiñones” is a rather common Puerto Rican name and might be not be Irish, as I was told. This reality was confirmed when I finally met my birthmother. Quiñones is a Puerto Rican name, MY NAME. Discovering the Puerto Rican roots of my birth name is one of my life’s most significant moments. A moment that has been enriched through Taller. Taller offers many high caliber cultural arts programs, many that I have come to view and value through my unique multicultural lens. Taller’s educational programs and curricula reflect the mosaic of the Latino Diaspora with bilingual readings, educational seminars, multimedia art workshops and exhibits by world-renowned artists. Attending these diverse programs has opened new doors to learning about my Puerto Rican connections within a warm and welcoming community. Because of Taller, I have learned about the unique practices of my ancestors through the sacred Tainos ceremony opening the exhibit of rare cultural artifacts, and have been delighted by the sound of the island’s Coquis throughout the gallery and bookstore. I also have been reminded of the invaluable resource of children’s books while listening to an award-winning author of “There Is a Coqui in My Shoe” read to a room full of mesmerized children and their families. Through these cultural education programs, I watch the children learn, the parents, grandparents, and siblings participate, the community strengthened and I deepened my own sense of identity. Children and youth who have participated in Taller’s programs are successful community leaders and now bring their own children to Taller. Strong partnerships with area schools, government, and other community entities reflect Taller’s continuous commitment to community building and leadership in responding to the changing needs of those it serves. Through these experiences, I know Taller makes a difference in our individual and collective lives. Taller is an organic collaborative of artists, community leaders, children and youth, adults and elderly, students and teachers, puertorriqueño’s, Latinos, and members of the region’s ever expanding multicultural and diverse communities. Taller’s 35-year legacy of interweaving academics and the arts and creativity and identity, lives on. Rooted in the richness of Puerto Rican arts, Taller continues honoring a broader Latino cultural cornucopia. Valuing Latino diversity is not a goal of Taller, it is its essence. I recall a wonderful spoken word poetry reading one night at Taller. I was particularly taken by renowned poet and performance artist Mariposa who graciously signed a copy of her book “Born Bronxena”. After thanking her, she repeated in Spanish, a line from one of her poems. ”No nací en Puerto Rico Puerto Rico nació en mi!” As I was leaving the fabulous event, Taller’s executive director, reminded me of the beauty, power and significance of Mariposa’s [translated] words to me “I was not born in Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico was born in me.” Without Taller, the questions of my identity from my youth would persist today. I feel fortunate to have found the unique offerings of Taller’s cultural awareness programs, arts education initiatives, and community building events. The future is bright for Taller and those we serve. As we celebrate 35 years of cultural education, Latino pride and community enrichment. I join with many others in being very thankful to have Taller in our community. Sincerely, Elena Marie DiLapi, LSW, QCSW

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Supporting the ongoing education of the youth and families in the community. As a resource for professionals interested in cultural competency and the critical role of cultural arts in buidling community. See letter for more details.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

knowing that my efforts help support Taller's unique and important mission... and being part of a warm and welcoming community.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

talented, bright, compassionate, diverse and committed to the mission of Taller and those we serve! The strong positive connections with children and adults served is visible, consistent, and contributes to Taller's positive reputation.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

better meet its mission, expand programs, hire more staff, develop publications, expand gallery exhibits, artist workshops and cultural arts education. serve as a model regionally,nationally and globally.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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Tutor a child in our education programs, help out in the gift store, or staff an event. Contact us- we always have new opportunities!