Local

Latino nonprofit succumbs to recession

Carlos Acosta (right) talks with McHenry County Jail officials in April 2008 about religious visitation rights for immigrant detainees. In the background are Ana Guajardo (center) and Mila Diaz of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Carlos Acosta (right) talks with McHenry County Jail officials in April 2008 about religious visitation rights for immigrant detainees. In the background are Ana Guajardo (center) and Mila Diaz of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Latino Coalition has closed up shop, apparently for good.

The coalition’s office closed at the end of October, although its executive director, Carlos Acosta, continued on until the end of the year. The coalition still exists as a nonprofit corporation, but it is not providing services and effectively has ceased to exist.

“The coalition was a victim of the recession,” said Larry Wilbrandt, an attorney for the coalition board.

Wilbrandt said the coalition largely relied on state grants. Those grants dried up during the state’s fiscal crisis.

Wilbrandt said the coalition probably officially would dissolve in the next two or three months. However, it is possible that the organization could be resurrected in some form someday, he said.

“Once the recession is over, it will come back,” Wilbrandt said. “The needs still exist.”

The coalition provided various services, including immigration consultation and referrals to professionals who deal with immigration issues. It also provided counseling and outreach services for the Latino community.

The coalition was one of the sponsors of the community resource center at Garden Quarter Apartments in McHenry, providing $10,000 in funding.

Acosta, the public face of the coalition for several years, is working in the area as a counselor.

“2009 was not a good year for nonprofits,” Acosta said.

Acosta said state or county grants accounted for about 80 percent of the foundation’s revenues. He said the coalition did not have a strong fundraising mechanism in place to offset the loss of grant money.

“We did not have the private funding that we needed to help us get through the rough patches,” Acosta said.

The coalition provided some low-cost immigration services, assisting people with paperwork and visa renewal applications.

“The needs for the organization are still there,” Acosta said.

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