Altoona (WQOW) – Sunday evening in river prairie was full of music, dancing, food and smiles.
The 2nd annual community fiesta put on by JONAH, or Joining Our Neighbors Advancing Hope, was a way for Altoona residents to get to know their Latinx neighbors and vice versa.
“The Latinx families that we know are just wonderful families,” said David Anderson, a co-chair on JONAH’s immigration task force. “You’d be really glad to have them as neighbors, and we’d like other people to know that. That these people are a huge asset for our community.”
David and his wife Joyce Anderson are both co-chairs of JONAH’s immigration task force. They wanted the fiesta to be a chance for the public to learn about their mission, and the issues facing the immigrant community that they want to address.
For example, members of the community being unable to renew their drivers licenses, which hinders families’ options for transportation. The Andersons want to make it possible for anyone to get where they need to go.
“We think that the fear in the community would be greatly reduced, but more importantly our roads would be safer with everyone behind the wheel that’s trained,” said Joyce.
JONAH also wants to address topics like ice raids and border control, bringing solidarity between immigrants and their neighbors.
“Families are being separated by ICE up here as well. People, children worry constantly that their parents will be removed from them,” said David. “And so we try to keep that in front of the public, that that’s something that shouldn’t be happening in our communities.”
Local law enforcement also teamed up with JONAH, to discuss and address any fears that the community may have about what is going on around their community or local law enforcement themselves.
“Both of our police forces really like to get the message out that we’re not checking your status, you shouldn’t be afraid to come to us with a problem,” said David.
Above all else, the organization wants to create a tight-knit community from events like this, and give a chance for everyone to have a night of fun.
“It’s all about improving our community. Building a healthier, diverse, welcoming community for absolutely everyone,” said Joyce.