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History and Mission
La Maestra Amnesty Center, was a non-profit citizenship center for the Amnesty of immigrants in San Diego. The Center was begun in 1986 and offered residents in the City Heights community services to help them gain their citizenship. They provided classes in ESL (English as a Second Language) VESL (Vocational English as a Second Language) and Civics classes to prepare for citizenship exams. Volunteers from the Center also went to homes to photograph and fingerprint disabled applicants as well as assist them with resident and citizenship applications.
As staff and volunteers worked closely with immigrants and particularly with refugees, it became clear that these new citizens would need more resources and services if they were to successfully overcome the language and cultural barriers they were facing.
It is from this early beginning that La Maestra Community Health Centers began in 1990 to provide new citizens with not only basic medical care but with housing, employment and other services that would support their needs. Just as a new Center was formed, so was a new and expanded mission – “to provide quality healthcare and education, improve the overall well-being of the family, bringing the underserved, ethnically diverse communities into the mainstream of our society, through a caring, effective, culturally-and linguistically competent manner, respecting the dignity of all patients.