Pastor's community service promotes Hispanic safety - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pastor's community service promotes Hispanic safety

August 28, 2007

Albany--  Two attacks on hispanic families in Dougherty County over the weekend renewed concerns about criminals that target immigrants. One couple was beaten and robbed. A gunman fired shots and also tried to rob another man.  But education may help. One religious leader goes the extra mile to make sure the Hispanic community is safe.

He's a pastor who goes beyond the pulpit. At anytime of the day he shows up at the front door.

"I've been helping out people for the past 3 1/2 years," said Reverend Jose Mendoza.

You could call Reverend Jose Mendoza the Hispanic helper. He does everything from assisting those in the Hispanic community fill out forms to helping with medical emergencies. Many times those who visit doctors offices don't speak English very well. Mendoza translates.

"It's very important because just one word can change everything around and they would think one thing and a doctor would be saying something else and they'd be doing something else," said Mendoza.

But recently his help has been needed because of something else. "It makes me very sad for them," said Mendoza.

He's talking about recent Dougherty County crimes. "I got a call from one of the Hispanics that they had been beaten and they had been robbed," said Mendoza. Alexander Sales and Lorena Mendez were recently the victims of a violent home invasion at Paradise Village. At least four men robbed them using sticks and guns.

"He got bruised behind his shoulder and he got hit a couple of times in the head," said Mendoza. Hundreds of dollars, a cell phone, car keys and even documentation was stolen.

"It's scary and some of them really don't realize they're in danger every time they open up a door and when someone asks them for money," said Mendoza.

So now Mendoza is working extra hard to educate. He wants them not to be afraid to report crime and make sure they take the necessary steps to prevent it.

"First of all I tell them don't let them know you have money.  Automatically just don't open the door," said Mendoza. They could be opening the door to unexpected violence.

"It's a lot. Some of them are scared. Some of them are afraid," said Mendoza. So Mendoza doesn't mind helping to ease those fears. "It's community service. Its helping them out," said Mendoza.

Some home visits and community service could stop crimes against Hispanics before it gets any worse.

Mendoza says many Hispanics can become easy targets because there's an assumption they're carrying a big amount of cash at one time. He warns Hispanics not to do that and if possible to open a bank account.

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