Local business joins effort to give aid to flood victims
A Carson City video store joined with the Northern Nevada Latino Network this week to provide aid to victims of the recent floods and mud slides in Venezuela.
“I think we should help in this,” said Elsa Martinez, owner of Video Centro, located at 2765 Highway 50 East.
Martinez is native of Mexico and has lived in the United States for 20 years. However, she said that the Venezuela flood relief should not be a cause taken up only by Hispanic Americans.
“It could happen to any of us,” she said. “A tragedy like this doesn’t care if you’re Latino or not. We’re all brothers.”
Along with five other businesses in Reno, Video Centro opened its doors on Monday to receive donations.
Martinez said the most important thing is that everybody unite to help the victims regardless of ethnic origin.
Nicolas Martinez, president of the League of United Latin-American Citizens, agreed with Elsa Martinez.
“I’m Mexican, not Venezuelan,” Nicolas Martinez said. “Now I’m an American citizen but it’s still important to be a humanitarian.”
He said his common experience compelled him to form the Venezuela flood relief program.
Nicolas Martinez, too, was a victim of a natural disaster. He lived in Los Angeles during the earthquake in 1994.
“I know what it’s like to live on the street,” he said. “I know what it’s like to almost cry for something for your kids to eat.”
Nicolas Martinez said he was homeless for three months and recognized his own suffering in the Venezuelan faces he saw on the news. That is why he started the relief fund.
“I put myself in their situation and I knew that there was no more time to wait,” he said.
Venezuela’s most deadly natural disaster of this century hit earlier this month. The death toll is still not complete as many bodies were washed away and have not yet been recovered. The Associated Press reported 7000 dead and 140,000 homeless, but figures from the Northern Nevada Latino Network estimate around 30,000 dead and 400,000 homeless.
The Associated Press described the scene in one Venezuelan city.
“In La Guaira, the pungent smell of bodies wafted through the airport. When trucks or volunteers carrying supplies appeared, residents clamored desperately for a bottle of drinking water or a piece of bread.”
Nicolas Martinez said that during this time of abundance, Americans should be especially aware of the suffering in Venezuela.
“We’re having parties over here and they don’t even have place to spend the night,” he said.
The relief program is seeking contributions of medicine, tents, portable stoves, baby food, water and blankets to be dropped of at the collection sites. Money can also be donated through the “Venezuela Relief Fund” at Bank of America account number 004961608783.
Nicolas Martinez said they are also looking for more organizations to serve as collection sites. He would like more volunteers in Reno and Carson City as well as the outlying areas like Minden, Gardnerville and Fernley. Any interested volunteers should call him at 786-8843.
The Northern Nevada Latino Network has been in operation for about two years he said and it is the center for all Hispanic organizations in northern Nevada.