SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The deadline for the census is September 30, and there is a final push to reach indigenous communities in Santa Maria.
Mix-teco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), a local non-profit organization established a census task force to reach out to the indigenous Oaxacan community and assist them in filling out the census this year.
A majority of indigenous people are non-Spanish speakers and are farm workers. Non-English and Spanish speakers are considered hard to count. An undercount means less money for the city for roads, healthcare and more.
Staff members in the task force are also farm workers and trilingual, speaking English, Spanish and Mixteco, one of sixteen indigenous languages spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Santa Maria Census Coordinator Donna Olivera said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been challenges, but the city is being creative to get as many census applications as safely as possible to make sure indigenous people are counted.
“One of the places that our community congregates out of necessity is the lavanderias, the laundromats here in our community," Olivera said. "We have been out there too, setting up our mobile assistance pop-up.”
MICOP is also asking for donations, such as adult disposable masks and hand sanitizers. The donations go toward the indigenous community and are handed out while the staff is assisting them with the census application.
If you are interested in donating, call (805) 623-5862.