A University of Toledo communications student is on her way to changing the airwaves for Latino listeners.
Linda Parra started her Spanish-language radio show, “Nuestra Gente,” in 2005 with the goal of connecting with the Latino community of the city.Parra’s objective for 2016 is to take her mission a step further by launching a station called WVZC-LP, 96.5 FM. The station, to be broadcast fully in Spanish, will showcase music, local and state news programming, and talk shows.
“We started the radio show as a community program — serving the community, informing members about the different programs and organizations — and it was very successful,” Parra said.
In 2008, Parra launched a nonprofit with the same name as her radio show to further community outreach. Nuestra Gente Community Projects Inc. looks to provide a combination of health and community-based programs, including education, social services, and health and safety awareness to residents, migrant workers and their families.
“Doing nonprofit work is more about community, it’s more about social work, and more about serving. I get connected with the community,” Parra said. “There is a lot of need for our community, especially in terms of translation and transportation. People don’t know where to go when they need appointments, they don’t have translation. So we provide those services through the organization. I like to provide a service.”
Parra said a few years ago, she and the team at Nuestra Gente Community Projects helped a Mexican senior at risk for stroke realize his extremely high blood pressure and make it to the ER before he suffered further complications. This experience proved to Parra the importance of the health screenings provided by her organization.
One of the greatest challenges to the establishment of the new station is funding for equipment. Parra needs $40,000 to put together the broadcasts; events will be held until she has the total amount. After receiving an extension on her permit, Parra has until next summer to raise the money.
“It’s not something that you learn, it’s something that you have inside you, that passion to serve, to be there for others,” Parra said.
Following her graduation in December, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health to further qualify her work with the nonprofit.
While working with Nuestra Gente, fundraising for the station and the radio show take up much of her time, but Parra still appreciates her life as a full-time student.
“There’s a lot of diversity going on campus,” Parra said. “I like the different faces you see, the different colors; you hear different languages, and it’s a really nice environment. Most of the people are young, so they give me more energy. I say, ‘I wish that I could be 20 again!’”
For more information on Nuestra Gente or to make a donation, visit nuestragentecommunityprojects.org.