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Philadelphia, PA USA

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TALLER PUERTORRIQUENO INC
December 12, 2014

I am writing as a social work professional who has supervised and taught graduate level social work students for over 25 years at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work. I am also a member of Taller’s Board and volunteer my expertise in a number of ways such as staff training, professional development, strategic plan development, event planning, evaluation etc. Taller’s Board has grown and is stronger today, along with staff and supporters having increased the organization’s capacity in a number of areas critical for all great nonprofits. I have witnessed the unique leadership of Taller’s CEO Dr. Carmen Febo San Miguel and the impact of an extremely gifted, talented and caring staff on meeting community in needs for children, youth, elderly and families.
Taller Puertorriqueño is a premier nonprofit. Celebrating 40 years of providing key services to a deserving community that celebrates, promotes, preserves and expands Puerto Rican and Latino arts and culture is no easy feat. While other nonprofits have succumbed to the economic, social and political challenges of the last decade, Taller remains strong and growing. The numerous awards and honors attest to this as we prepare to break ground on Taller’s state of the art Latino Cultural Arts Center, a Philadelphia destination in the heart of this valuable community.
Taller’s educational services for children and youth are among the best in the country. This is another critical accomplishment given that the community served is in the poorest zip code of Philadelphia and with a troubled public school system. Through its afterschool, summer programs and homework club Taller contributes to the children and youth’s educational process and academic success.
Tonight I will have the opportunity to observe the accomplishment of the current students (elementary, middle, and high school) as they present their semester end program. This is always a highlight as the dedicated work of the students with the support of a talented and committed educational staff are clearly visible. Taller Puertorriqueño is a Best Non Profit in Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania and across the nation and deserve the highest distinction among great nonprofits. Please stop by and see for yourself.
Elena Marie DiLapi

MY ROLE:
Professional with expertise in this field

TALLER PUERTORRIQUENO INC
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

MY ROLE:
Board Member & Currently serve as Vice Chair of Board.