It's the fastest growing group in the 21st Assembly district represented by Assemblyman Tom Alfano. And, in an effort to boost understanding and promote education, business and health care programming, the assemblyman went to El Salvador to visit with governmental, business and health care leaders to discuss the needs of his growing constituency.
"The west-end community is a melting pot of different cultures, languages and backgrounds," said Assemblyman Alfano who stated, "This trip, which I paid for out of my own pocket, will help me to continue to address the needs of the district and help enrich our neighborhoods."
Alfano was invited on the tour by leaders in the El Salvadoran and Central American community in his Assembly district. "This was a unique opportunity because it melds right in with my priorities for our community and helps the very people I represent each and every day," Alfano said. "The issues we talked about most were education, taxes and health care access. Each, in its own way, is a direct mirror to every community I represent."
Alfano visited with the Speaker of the Salvadorian General Assembly, the mayor of San Salvador and elected leaders throughout the countryside. Alfano noted that the needs of local neighborhoods like health care access, literacy and job opportunities were the main focus of many of his discussions. "My priority for the district has always been education, health care and relieving taxes," Alfano stated. "It's very clear that an educated workforce in technology and trades is the base for economic growth in our community."
During Alfano's tour, he was interviewed by radio stations in El Salvador regarding issues of the day. He highlighted the communities of Elmont, Franklin Square, West Hempstead and Hempstead for their outstanding outreach in schools and community organizations to Spanish-speaking populations. "One of the priorities that the Salvadoran, Central American, Dominican and Puerto Rican populations in my district has is access to English literacy programming. That's why programs like Elmont's GYO are such an important fixture," Alfano remarked.
Late last year, Alfano swore-in new citizens in the Elmont community who were part of a special program through Gateway Youth Outreach and the Sewanhaka High School District. During the ceremony, Alfano noted that the strength of our local communities lies on its diversity. "There's no question that our local area is one of the strongest and culturally diverse areas in the state. We have special needs in that regard. Everybody, whether it's our schools or fire departments, is working together and fostering a positive environment for everyone who works and lives in our community. That's what's great about this district," Alfano said.
Mayor Carlos Rivas Zomara welcomed Alfano to his city where they discussed job training and programs that promote preventative health care and education. During the visit, Alfano was surprised to be the honoree in a ceremony in which leaders presented him with commemorative keys to the city and a holographic photo of the city. "Mayor Zomara was a gracious host and someone who is a up and coming leader in El Salvador," Alfano said.
When asked to comment on the significance of this visit, Alfano related that he is one of the very first legislators in the area to go out and get a hands-on look on the needs of the populations of the people he serves in their home country. "You get an appreciation of the culture and the people," Alfano reflected. "It also helps you relate to the issues that new Americans are going through. I feel I have a responsibility as a leader to help promote understanding and be someone that all people feel they can count on. That's what leadership is all about."