(note: if you cannot see the photo slideshow, click here.)
The Casa Azafrán Community Center opened its doors to the public with a ceremony and festival Saturday, Dec. 1.
There was music, art, crafts, dancing and a tour of the 29,000-square-foot center, which houses six nonprofit agencies.
Here is a round-up of media stories about the celebration and quotes by those who spoke at the Grand Opening ceremony.
And, if you have not yet had a chance to come see Casa Azafrán, we’re at 2195 Nolensville Pike. To learn more about the center, read the information page.
WZTV Fox 17, Grand Opening coverage.
The Tennessean: “New Center to Assist All Immigrant Groups”
Casa Azafrán’s opening at 2195 Nolensville Pike heralds another sign of the changing face of Nashville and Tennessee. The center is designed to offer immigrants one-stop shopping for health services, social services, counseling and education; offer local events; and promote entrepreneurship. It also is open to the public at large. The center was funded by a combination of federal grants and corporate and local donations.
Nashville Scene: “At Casa Azafrán’s grand opening, the culturally interlaced Nashville of the future arrives early”
For all the countries of origin represented Saturday at the grand opening of the new Casa Azafrán community center — Somalia, Mexico, India, Peru, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Guatemala, Tibet, Colombia, the U.S. — one thing crossed all boundaries: the arepa. A staple of northern South America, it’s a thick, crusty corncake stuffed pocket-style with meat and cheese, scarcely seen here outside the Bonnaroo midway.
Yet even though it’s little known even to Nashvillians who frequent Nolensville Road pupuserias, a line encompassing multiple ethnicities and dialects stretched along the community center’s hallway, waiting for Ruth Rico’s hand-patted specialty. Throughout Casa Azafrán, people who didn’t speak the same language were finding other ways to communicate: music, dance, painting, pointing.
Throughout Casa Azafrán, people who didn’t speak the same language were finding other ways to communicate: music, dance, painting, pointing.
Hola! Tennessee: “Casa Azafrán Abre sus Puertas”
Translation: “Casa Azafrán Opens its Doors”
Comunicarte USA: Casa Azafrán, El Nuevo Rostro de los Latinos.”
Translation: Casa Azafrán, the new face of Latinos.”
“I am awed by Conexión Américas achievements over the past decade. If anyone ever wants to be inspired and see the art of the possible, just visit Casa Azafrán. Amazing work by Renata Soto and the entire team. Congratulations.” — Will Pinkston, Nashville School Board Member.
Quotes from the Opening Ceremony
U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, Grand Opening Ceremony remarks
“This building, and Conexión, is all about building those bridges, not walls. This is world class. This is path breaking. This is historic.”
Architect Michael Ward, Allard Ward Architects, Opening Ceremony remarks
“We consider our Lobby our “Town Square” – a place to meet, interact, and share. The workroom and staff lounge are open to the public space to encourage interaction among the partner agencies.
The corridors are also galleries, and what could have been a sterile commercial kitchen is now a place for fellowship and celebration of great food. Multi-purpose rooms serve as classrooms as well as venues for special events and celebrations. The sunny courtyard is a place to gather outside – an extension of these spaces – and a great place to host a wedding!
The details of this building express the connections we have with each other and how we interact as a community. Jairo Prado’s amazing mural that will soon be part of the new façade, it embodies many of those ideas , expressing the vibrant, culturally diverse people who are Casa Azafrán.”
Remziya Suleyman, Director of Policy, American Center for Outreach, a Casa Azafrán partner agency, at the Grand Opening Ceremony
“We are standing at the gateway to Nashville’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood, an area of residents who have deep roots, but also an area rich with new immigrants from places like Mexico, Somalia, Vietnam, India and Kurdistan, who are here seeking, and Casa Azafrán creating opportunity, in an adopted homeland.
Casa Azafrán has been inspired and planned as a home for all Nashvillians, from the newly arrived to the native born.”
Renata Soto, Executive Director, Conexión Américas, at Grand Opening Ceremony
“In 2002, a time when figures from the 2000 census were being released and overanalyzed…showing the unprecedented growth of the Latino community in places like Georgia, North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee…
In 2002, a time when some Tennesseans were becoming more and more vocal about their disdain for the demographic changes that they feared would destroy their communities…
In 2002, a time when immigrants were challenging the existing nonprofit and government service infrastructure with our Spanish language and long learning curve about how things and systems worked in our newly adopted home…
In 2002, a time when Latinos and immigrants were increasingly being used as scapegoats for everything that ailed this country, Jose, Maria Clara and I –along with our families, many friends, a handful of foundations, and a forming board of directors — believed in the strengths of immigrant families moving to Tennessee.
We believed in their amazing creativity and resilience in the face of adversity.
We believed in their pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit to see opportunity where others saw long roads and no easy answers.
We believed in their tireless determination to pursue a future with dignity and prosperity for their children.
And so in 2002, we created Conexión Américas to help Latino families realize their aspirations for social and economic advancement.”
Jose Gonzalez, Conexión Américas co-founder and Finance Director, Grand Opening Ceremony remarks
“When we started Conexión Américas on May 6, 2002, Maria Clara, Renata and I had a small donated office, a phone, Renata’s palm pilot and many dreams.”
And while our dreams where ambitious, I never thought that 10 years later we would be inaugurating a community center of this scale… and that promises to become a new landmark in Nashville’s urban landscape.
A very special thank you to our supporters, donors, friends, participants, partners, staff and everyone who helped design and build Casa Azafrán. (And special shout out to Abintra Montessori who donated furniture for our beautiful children’s area.)
Together, we’re making dreams come true.
How you can help
We still need to raise $700,000 toward Casa Azafrán and until Dec. 31, your donation is doubled.
For every dollar in donations we receive by December 31, we earn an additional dollar thanks to a $50,000 challenge grant from the Cal Turner Family Foundation. So, if you give us $25, the gift turns into $50, and so on!
Please visit our donations page, here.