Learn about our community
Who We Are
- We use the word “Latino” to include not only immigrants from Latin America and Spain, but also persons born as citizens of the United States of America whose heritage is rooted in Hispanic experiences.
- We are open to members from all ethnic and racial groups who support our goals.
- As a not-for-profit corporation, FLECHA does not promote any political party or candidate and is not affiliated with any church or religion.
- We do, however, engage in civic causes that often include political figures and church communities who promote the well-being of our people.
What We Believe
“Flecha” is the word in Spanish for “arrow.” Our new logo transforms the arrow into a dynamically coiled shape, pulling from the past, pointing towards the future, as we fulfill our goals of Unity, Progress and Culture. The logo features all the colors in the flags of Spain and Latin America, symbolizing our diversity of ethnicities and nationalities. It is surrounded by a blue outline celebrating the continental unity. It was designed for us in August of 2020 by Fernando Alcántar of East Stroudburg University.
FLECHA’s mission is to promote education about and respect for the cultures of Hispanic America and their peoples by advocacy of networking, unity, shared values, and encouragement for members’ full participation in educational, social-cultural, civic, economic processes, and other similar activities that benefit the Latino and general community.
– 2015 FLECHA By Laws, Article I, Section 3.
The goals of FLECHA are unity, progress and freedom for cultural expression.
Unity – because there is strength in community, and we believe in our traditional family values.
Progress – because we work for the economic and social advancement of all to make a better world and build better harmony among all races, nationalities and religions in the Pocono Mountains area of Pennsylvania.
Cultural Freedom – because we will defend the rights of our language to be spoken and of our heritage to be expressed and we will not allow either of them to be forgotten.
What We Do
Don Manuel González from a Spanish family was one of the first settlers in colonial times purchasing land in Bushkill, Pennsylvania in 1725. González’ male descendants were soldiers in the War of Independence and the Civil War, while female descendants married into prominent families in the Pocono region. They played notable roles in the history of Monroe and Pike Counties economic and cultural development.
However, the formation of Latino community organizations in the Poconos began only after 1965 when the number of Latinos and Latinas increased dramatically. Many were immigrants who came to the area because of the opportunities for work in the tourist industry in places like the old Mount Airy Lodge. This first wave was followed by merchants and professionals who came as a second wave serving the needs of a growing population in the Poconos. The third wave came after 1980 with many second-generation Latino commuters from cities like New York who sought affordable homes and family-friendly environments for raising children.
FLECHA recognizes the achievements of these pioneers who created the first groups to advance our community, especially the Interamerican Club and the Latin American Alliance of North East Pennsylvania, known by its acronym, LAANEPA. A collection of materials on the early history of Latinos in the Pocono Mountains is available at the Monroe County Historical Association. These files with over a hundred entries initially organized in 2019 by FLECHA member, Dr. Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo, have been expanded to include recorded video interviews of the original leaders of the community.
FLECHA was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on May 24, 2012 with East Stroudsburg as our home location. Our official name is “Federation of Latinos for Education about the Cultures of Hispanic America.”
We chose “federation” rather than “organization” in order to avoid presenting ourselves as the sole representative of the growing Latino population in the Pocono Mountains. Instead, we proposed to harness the energy of grassroots and church groups in a common cause for all the residents of this area of Northeastern Pennsylvania. You will notice that in our official name, we use both “Latino” and “Hispanic.” In our opinion, both names are used correctly and we decided to avoid any possible division that would separate Latinos and Latinas born here with full citizenship, from Latin Americans who are immigrants from other countries, and all of them from people from Spain.
We later rented a post office box in Stroudsburg and received 501c3 not-for-profit tax status from the Internal Revenue Service in an authorization, dated April 20, 2015.
You can learn more about the events that FLECHA started and currently sponsors by accessing the EVENTS tab from the home screen.
In the fall of 2015, after we had secured our tax-exempt status, we were invited by the Monroe County Community Services Block Grants Committee to propose an informational and referral service to the Spanish-speaking persons in the county. That service was hosted by Catholic Social Services and Vincent Henry, a native of Panama, was the first case worker under this grant. In 2016, the Stroudsburg office of Catholic Social Services was closed and FLECHA transferred its grant and operations to United Way of Monroe County until that agency merged with Pocono Alliance. Our intention was not to replace CSS or United Way with a rival organization exclusively servicing the Spanish-speaking. Rather, we wanted to influence existing agencies which already enjoyed substantial budgets and organizational infrastructure. We saw it our task to show existing agencies how to assume responsibility for outreach to and service towards our people. That goal has been accomplished.
In past years, (2012-2016) FLECHA sponsored a forum for agencies in the area that we called “La Convocatoria [The Convocation].” Among the positive effects of this effort was collaboration with East Stroudsburg University in a needs-assessment of our growing community. We are happy to report that FLECHA is now included as a regular partner in several similar events, such as those at Northampton Community College. Many interagency groups seeking to include Latinos and Latinas have turned to FLECHA as the organization best suited to address community needs.
FLECHA has participated in Latin Fest since 2015 and in 2017, we secured the first of two grants from Monroe County to co-sponsor the event. Latin Fest is now part of the federation and its representative is on the FLECHA Community Board.
There are many other events, opportunities and organizations working as friends with the FLECHA Community Board. Because we are a federation of diverse groups with different interests, the Community Board allows for an ever-widening network reflecting the expanding opportunities for Latinos in the Pocono Mountains.
East Stroudsburg University (ESU) provided the first impetus for organizing both the Interamerican Club in the 1970s and LAANEPA in the 1990s. The university campus has been home for various festivals and workshops since last century. Today, FLECHA is strengthening these links to ESU, its students and its role in the education of future leaders.
Another important partner for FLECHA is Dr. Damary Bonilla Rodríguez, who serves as our local representative on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Latino Affairs, known by its acronym, GACLA. That contact allows for communication of our needs directly to Harrisburg. Constituted by delegates from all the significant Latino communities in the Commonwealth, GACLA serves all political parties and interests on social and community needs.
Together with ESU and GACLA, FLECHA has shown support for causes involving Latinos and Latinas such as drives for voter registration, and participation in the 2020 Census.
In 2012, while there was a threat of restrictive voter ID regulations, members of FLECHA stood against the pending legislation which was declared unconstitutional in October of 2012.
FLECHA has joined with other civic groups in organizing collection of relief funds for victims of natural disasters in Caribbean and Latin America. In November of 2017, the proceeds from our annual Family Dinner Dance was donated to assist survivors of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico. In the next year, we cooperated with the local organization, Women’s Resources, to provide winter clothing to families who had come to the Poconos from Puerto Rico.
The Pennsylvania State Data Center at Penn State Harrisburg reported that in 2018 Monroe’s minority population represents 26.9 percent of the total, third highest among the state’s 67 counties. The county’s percentage of minority residents has risen steadily throughout the decade. Of all minority groups, Hispanics are the largest in the county, representing 13.5 percent of the total population.
Moreover, the overwhelming majority of county residents are born in the United States. Only 10 percent of the county’s residents has been born in a foreign country, with Poland – not any country in Latin America — representing the birth place of the largest number of foreign-born Poconovians.
Monroe County also has one of Pennsylvania’s youngest populations, ranking fifth among the counties with 23.6 percent of residents age 18 or younger. Importantly, Hispanics are the largest ethnic/racial segment of the youth population in the county.
While we eagerly await results from the 2020 US Census, there is little doubt that these characteristics will be confirmed for Monroe County:
- Latino citizens of the United States are the largest minority group.
- One in five of Poconovians under 18 are Latinos.
- If current patterns persist, the Pocono Mountains will be a mostly minority population by 2035 with Latinos the majority of the new majority.
These demographic facts serve to guide FLECHA’s commitments to our collective future.
Recognizing the statistical strength of our future social role in this area, county officials invited FLECHA in the Spring of 2015 to participate in the Bicentennial of the founding of Stroudsburg. FLECHA decided to write a “letter to the future” that was buried in a time capsule in front of the County Courthouse in Stroudsburg. It will be opened in 2065.
You can read it here.
© FLECHA: Federation of Latinos for Education about Cultures of Hispanic America