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ALAS celebrates its 10th anniversary

Fiesta delayed by shooting aftermath

Jun 15, 2024 Updated Jun 17, 2024

A large crowd gathered at the IDES hall on Saturday evening to celebrate 10 years of ALAS

Ahead of Ayudando Latinos A Soñar's 10-year anniversary gala on Saturday at the I.D.E.S Hall on Main Street in Half Moon Bay, CEO and founder Belinda Hernández Arriaga reflected on the many wins the nonprofit has had while serving the community.

The organization was set to observe this significant anniversary last year, but the celebration was postponed due to the ongoing impact of the mushroom farm shootings in January, 2023.

Saturday’s “Gran Gala” will showcase performances by groups from ALAS as well as by Grupo Accordion Campo Media Luna and Ballet Folklórico Tonantzin with Mariachi Media Luna, artists Steeven Sandoval, Mariachi Nueva Generación and Hernàn Hernández Jr. with his group Suenatron.

Hernández Arriaga said it’s so emotional for the ALAS staff to support the Coastside community they love.

“ALAS was a dream when we started in 2011 and we became a formal nonprofit in 2013,” said Hernández Arriaga. “We’re kind of a little late celebrating but it’s really important for us.”

Over the past ten years ALAS has evolved from focusing on mental health services to being a staunch advocate for farmworkers. In times of need - like providing meals during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to helping out the farmworkers and their families who were displaced in the aftermath of the mushroom farms shootings - ALAS and other nonprofits stood up to help.

One example is the group of six farmworkers who receive free accordion lessons at Cabrillo Farms as a form of music therapy. The group of students will be playing at the Gala as the Grupo Accordion Campo Media Luna. Also in the lineup is their mentor, Hernán Hernández Jr., who is the son of a member of the San Jose-based Norteño band, Los Tigres Del Norte.

Hernández Arriaga said that the members of Grupo Accordion Campo Media Luna are all equally invested in singing and playing. “There's one that is just like a natural,” she said. “Their story is so much bigger than just their role as farmworkers.”

Hernández Arriaga added that the organization is proud of its Latino heritage. Because the organization mobilizes culture, the arts and mental health services, Hernández Arriaga likened ALAS to a Temezcal or a sweat lodge where someone goes in and finds hope, love and support.

State Sen. Josh Becker and Assemblymember Marc Berman namd ALAS their nonprofit of the year in 2023 for the hard work the organization does to invest in its local community and how the Coastside community supports ALAS.

Artist Julio Lopez from Montara in front of his hummingbird sculpture, next to the farmworker exhibit inside the IDES Hall

Looking ahead to the next 10 years, Hernández Arriaga said she dreams about having a cultural center as ALAS scales up its services like the farmworker outreach, the Equity Express bus and arts.

“We’re doing research with Stanford by creating an instrument to measure immigration and trauma stress,” said the founder. “So we want to take what has been working at ALAS and we want to grow it in many ways to become a model that other people can use.”

Hernández Arriaga expressed her gratitude to the City of Half Moon Bay and the community for their support.

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