April 24, 2024

Osceola organization seeks to strengthen community

The newest non-profit organization to be formed in Osceola is Southern Iowa Latino Outreach and Support, SILOS, and they are already making an impact in the community as they worked to bring a worker relief program and free water to residents this past weekend.

SILOS beginnings

SILOS was started by Vielka Rivera Wambold in October 2023. SILOS is a chapter of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), which is something that Wambold has been active with in the different communities she has lived. She had thought about starting a LULAC council in Osceola, and it was after a trip to the border in Texas in October, that she returned to find people asking her what they could do to help locally. Her response was to create SILOS.

In order to be recognized as a council by LULAC, a local council has to have a minimum of 10 members who Wambold quickly gathered. She said she purposefully chose the 10 founding members to be as close to half Latino, half not ratio as she could get. She additionally chose people who were active and known in both the Latino and Osceola community, leaning on their support and guidance as the council got up and running.

After submitting the necessary paperwork and application to LULAC national, Wambold received a council number just before 2023 closed out, designating SILOS as SILOS LULAC Council 383.

“SILOS is a community effort,” said Wambold, who chose the name as silos means the same in Spanish as it does in English.

Though SILOS is a LULAC council with a primary focus that will be geared towards the Latino community, they will encompass everyone, something that Wambold wants to make sure is known.

Community efforts

After the holidays, Wambold was contacted by LULAC Iowa, and a discussion of having an Iowa Farm & Food Worker Relief Event in the area was brought up. The event would be for eligible workers to apply for a one-time $600 grant through the USDA for working during COVID. Wambold again got to work, and quickly helped to coordinate such an event to be held on March 16, along with the concerted efforts of Forward Latino and LULAC Iowa. Latinx and Hispanic Federation were also partners in the event.

When the event was announced earlier in March, Wambold was expecting to have maybe a handful of workers sign up for an appointment. The response, however, found the event booked solid within a few days, with over 200 appointments scheduled and over 25 walk-ins waiting. Three ladies from Forward Latino spent 10 hours on March 16, working on relief applications as well as scheduling walk-ins for other relief event locations.

Around the same time Wambold was working on the relief event, she received a call from the LULAC Iowa director, inquiring about the water crisis in Clarke County. From him she learned that LULAC wanted to donate bottled water, and Wambold partnered with Osceola Hy-Vee for the water and Iron Horse for a location. SILOS then distributed over 400 cases of bottled water between March 16 and 17, with leftover water going to Clarke Community Schools. It was an event that an event that Wambold described as “a community win.”

“That’s just two programs that this council in less than 60 days is bringing to this community, in the spirit of community,” said Wambold.

LULAC and SILOS plan for the water event to happen again next month. Wambold said they are also looking into bringing the relief grant event back to Osceola, though that is dependent on funding available through the USDA.

Moving forward

SILOS’ mission statement is “is to be a partnership hub to provide a streamlined process that enhances the integration of recent arrivals into our community by working in close partnership with government agencies, professional service providers, business owners and civic leaders.”

One way in which Wambold seeks to be that hub - partnering and enhancing other services offered - is by finding a dedicated space for SILOS. She hopes to find a downtown location, or as close to downtown as possible, that would allow a safe space for people to talk to organization representatives, and serve as a place for storage, such as food pantry items.

As a council, SILOS will focus on ten specific areas: civil rights, education/scholarship opportunities, employment, access to health services, public policy, immigration, technology skills and training, women’s issues, economic empowerment and affordable housing.

“We’re excited to be here…the horizon looks really, really great,” said Wambold.

Overall, Wambold is happy to be able to offer SILOS to the Osceola community.

“I have always, always had a soft spot in my heart for Osceola. I like the feel, I felt very welcome. That spirit of welcoming is what I hope to grow here and remind folks…the welcoming spirit I know this town has,” she said.

Learn more

To learn more about SILOS or to make donations - they are a 501(c)4 - visit the SILOS website at: www.sisilos.org; on Facebook under Southern Iowa Latino Outreach and Support - SILOS; or call their business number at 641-223-5941. SILOS is looking for more membership, and encourages youth to join as well, as LULAC is big into promoting education.

“Our SILOS LULAC council team is small but expanding and includes local government officials, medical and healthcare experts, education official, and various business and community leaders from both the Latino population and broader community. We are united in uplifting and empowering the Latino population living in our county. Our varied expertise facilitates decision-making, and ensures a dialogue that is consistent, and keeps our mission/vision moving forward.

“We intend to keep growing and building our team until the name SILOS is synonymous with community growth, professional assistance, and the advancement and enrichment of our community.” [can cut this part is need be]

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.