Raymond Chavarria, Community Member
1. Tell us a little about your personal history in Long Beach
I graduated from Phineas Banning High School in 1977. I attended San Diego State University and Cal State Long Beach pursing an degree in education. I graduate from Long Beach City College with Associate Arts degree in LIberal Arts. I have lived in Long Beach for 36 years since 1977. My entire family of 65 members live in Central Long Beach and everyone is a US Citizen as well as property owners. I have educated my family members to register and vote. I lived with my Mother of 75 years who also volunteers in the community and my sister with five children graduate from Wilson High.
2. How did you became involved in community work and why?
I became involved as a volunteer when a 5 years Latino boy drowned in LA River. The father went to the police station and no one spoke Spanish. He came the next day with a translator to explain to the police department that his son was missing. The Police department began a search team and found the 5 year old drown. The police received pressure from elected officials and resident. To avoid future tragedies the Emergency Translator Program was created to recruit resident with bilingual skills. I responded to the newspaper article and was the first recruited. I volunteered and recruited over 300 residents with more than 150 languages and dialogs. The Emergency Translator Program was recognized by the Governor of California and we were used for the Olympics in Los Angeles. I was used as translator for child abuse, shooting, murder etc. I was flown to the hospital at all hours of the day to translate. This is why I started to be involved in the community.
3. How did you become involved with BHC-LB?
I became involved through United Cambodian Community as we attended numerous meeting with the beginning process.
4. What are some highlights of your work within the BHC collaborative?
I was elected by the residents to the Steering Committee to represent the residents of Central Area. Then I was elected by the Steering Committee members as Chair.
I have worked with air quality work group in educating the Cambodian community on pollution. This community did ground truthing to identify how business are polluting the community.
I coordinated the Cambodian Coalition to have monthly community forums at MacArthur Park the last Wednesday of each month. I have attend numerous meeting and received many training to increase my knowledge of the BHC work.
Central Long Beach Walk Loop which is scheduled to kick off on April 13, 2013.
5. What are your visions for the future of the collaborative?
As resident, I want to make sure foot prints are left in Central Long Beach when TCE funding is out. In the past, many foundation come to our community do assessment and gets the community involved but we never see the results. I informed Dr. Ross that I want to see footprint of the work everyone is doing. He stated to me, you and the resident have to hold us accountable so those foot prints are their in Long Beach. I will make sure that we see the footprints so that our children when they grown up can see that BHC work that was accomplished.
6. What are one or two of your favorite things/places about Long Beach?
I love Long Beach. I live in the MacArthur Park Area which is in Central Long Beach. I am proud to own my home, live in Cambodia Town, eat and shop on Anaheim in Cambodia Town. The Anaheim Coordinator is the most diverse section of Long Beach as we have Cambodian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Latino, African American. In addition we have diverse Cultural groups along Anaheim. The numerous restaurants, library, PCC, MacAthur Park/Homeland Cultural Center.
7. What would be one thing you would encourage every person in Long Beach to do to help our community?
To educate the residents of Central Long Beach that they can be part of the process in making changes in their own community. Get Involved so their voices can be heard and their concerns to be address.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am proud to be part of BHC and I am seeing changes being made by the residents. I see a diverse residents participating at the hub or work groups. I see the youth creating campaigns to better the students rights, I see many residents are not afraid of speaking at City Council meetings. We are coming together and still more work ahead of us.