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  • Ivette Guillermo-McGahee

Hammonton’s Familia Grows as People Come Together to Celebrate Hispanic Festivities



When Jennifer* heard the Hammonton Health Coalition (HHC) was hosting an event to celebrate the Day of the Dead, she was excited to participate and learn more about the history and traditions that go into the holiday. Although the celebration is not a part of her own culture, everyone at the event made her feel right at home, even encouraging her to place photos of her own family on the ofrenda (Offer). The Day of the Dead Celebration is just an example of all the creative ways the HHC has come up to bring people together during these difficult times.

This pandemic has affected us in so many ways, but overall, it has affected our mental health. Social distance measures in place have changed the way we live, work, and play, making us feel isolated. Now more than ever, we need to find creative ways to keep connected.

The connectors know well the healing power of being close to friends and family during difficult times. They also know there is a significant number of people in their community affected by the pandemic, which, for different reasons, have not been able to access the resources they need and have no family or friends around to help them. Therefore, two of the Connectors' main goals during these last two months have been helping residents feel closer to their community and offering them the opportunity to help each other.


During Hispanic Heritage Month, in Collaboration with MainStreet Hammonton, they hosted “Fiesta Hammonton,” a Festival to celebrate the Latino culture. Attendants had the opportunity to learn about Hispanic traditions, enjoy music and poetry, try Latin-American food, and celebrate the town’s rich cultural diversity while keeping social distance.

In October, they hosted the Let’s Build a Community Altar Together event to prepare for the Day of the Dead. This event's primary purpose was to give those community members who have lost their loved ones the opportunity to mourn together, as many of them have been mourning alone. During this month, the HHC also offered in collaboration with Allies in Caring, a Free Grief Counseling Line.


After the Day of the Death event, they organized, in coordination with King's Way Pentecostal Church, Allies in Caring, the Puerto Rican Association, and the Migrant Worker Outreach, a Resource Fair for farm migrant workers and low-income families. The main goal of this event was to bring information and resources to affected communities.

No one knows when things will get back to normal, but in Hammonton, NJ, people know that even if they don’t have family or friends around, now they are part of a bigger family: the Hammonton Health Coalition Familia. The Connectors will continue taking care of their community members as they take care of their own families. For information on the Hammonton Health Coalition and how to participate, please send us an email at Hammonton.HC@gmail.com.

*Name was changed to protect participant privacy

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