The California Latino Council of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CLC) was incorporated in 1996 and became the first statewide nonprofit organization to serve the Deaf Latino community. The organization was founded by Mark Apodaca, who was also the Vice President of the National Hispanic Council of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NHC) during the same period.
During the last NHC conference at Boston, Massachusetts, in November of 1994, Mark Apodaca and Marta Ordaz met to discuss the possibility of forming a statewide Deaf Latino organization to better serve the community. In addition, it was believed that CLC could better support NHC by focusing on state issues while NHC would focus on national issues.
The members of the board during CLC’s earliest days were:
President: Mark Apodaca
Vice President, Northern California: Marta Ordaz
Vice President, Southern California: Mark Quinones
Secretary: Lorraine Flores
Treasurer: Armando Farruya III
Board Members-at-Large: Ramy Bustamente lll; Leticia Ruiz (Dominquez); Rose Madera de Farruya; Tomas Garcia, Jr.; Sylvia Garcia; David Gomez; Elena Gomez; F.R. Gomez; and Connie Martinez-Wild.
The mission of CLC was:
“To promote leadership, advocacy, education, and to address the needs of
the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Latino Community.”
During the course of its operation, people contacted CLC for information, referrals, and support and such services were provided. All members of the board were volunteers and it was very challenging to keep the organization active especially when it came to serving the community within the third largest state in the nation. The board met quarterly in cities where a large Latino population resided.
In 2001, CLC had its first statewide conference in Los Angeles for the Spanish-speaking parents of deaf and hard of hearing children. The conference provided workshops on various topics and resources. The keynote speaker was Lupita Ontiveros who was the mother of two deaf sons. During her speech, she told the parents to get over the grief and start to think about the needs of the deaf children first.
In 1999, Mark Apodaca accepted a position with Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) and relocated to Georgia. He agreed to remain President until after the 2001 conference. After the conference, Marta Ordaz became the acting president, registered agent and contact point of CLC. Later, the organization decided to become inactive but Ms. Ordaz continued to file reports with the state of California and the IRS to keep the organization’s status active with hopes that someday in the near future another group would become interested in CLC and active its operations again.
[Image description: Vintage photo of CLC with all of its members lined up. The background is a white wall.]
In 2016, a new group of Deaf Latinx community members showed interest, assumed responsibility of the organization, and renamed it the California Manos del Corazón. The location of the retreat in which the newly named organization met was in Paso Robles, California.
The new members of the board for California Manos del Corazón were Roberto Cabrera; Janette Duran; Joel Garcia; Susan Gonzalez; Roberto Sandoval; and Jennifer Spensieri. California Manos del Corazón (CMC) revamped the organization's mission and passion statements which recognizes and celebrates Latinx Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Hard of Hearing & Late-Deafened (DDBDDHHLD) communities in the state of California.
California Manos del Corazón was grateful and fortunate for the opportunity to host the 5th Biennial Council de Manos National Conference on October 26-28, 2017! Breaking Barriers was the conference theme. The location of the conference was in Marina del Rey, California. There was no better way to honor Latinx DDBDDHHLD communities than by breaking down the social, political and economic barriers that have created such alarming inequalities for them. They reached a large number of registered applicants (over 400!), sponsorships, vendors and workshop proposals!
[Image description: (From left to right) The board members Roberto Sandoval, Susan González, Joel Garcia, Jennifer Spensieri, Roberto Cabrera, and Janette Duran smiling for the camera in black tops. The background is a house as trees and a fence.]