The nonprofit says it is working to provide greater learning opportunities following building expansion.

Adelante Mujeres in Forest Grove is set to begin some major construction this summer which will help the large nonprofit organization — focused on empowering and educating Latina women and families — expand and reach more of the community.STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Lucia Silva of Hillsboro has been enrolled in Adelante Mujeres and the City of Hillsboro's Cocinemos program, which helps entrepreneurs succeed in food-based business. The program previously used Forest Grove and Hillsboro senior center kitchens.

The 17,000-square-foot building — located at 2030 Main St. — was purchased by Adelante Mujeres about a year ago. It will soon have six early childhood education classrooms, two adult education classrooms, a commercial kitchen, office spaces, meeting rooms and various other additions, with construction beginning in August and projected to finish within a year, said director of development Evelyn Cantoral.

The upgrades have been made possible by a capital campaign that Adelante Mujeres launched at the end of 2016. Its goal was to raise $3 million to both complete the renovations and pay off mortgage on the building, which is currently being used as an administrative office by the nonprofit organization.

With just under $2 million raised so far, administrators have decided to give construction the go-ahead while they work to raise the remaining money.

While the additions will benefit those 8,000-some people utilizing services from Adelante Mujeres each year across Washington County, Cantoral said the building will also serve as a strong symbol to the community of Forest Grove.

"For us, being able to have kind of this center right here on Main Street in Forest Grove is really, really important," she said. "It carries a lot of symbolism for our community, just the idea that there's a safe space for the Latino community, that the Latino community is an important part of the larger Forest Grove community."

Adelante Mujeres serves thousands in the region already, offering various educational classes, programs, workshops and more, but Cantoral said the number will only increase with the renovations.

"We anticipate that we will continue the services and programs that we already run, but as we are able to build out these new spaces in Forest Grove, it's going to help us in several years down the road," she said. "We anticipate that we will be able to double the number of people that we serve."

The Forest Grove building will also have a commercial kitchen up and running year-round and available to the community at large, which can be utilized to cook for farmers' markets, businesses and more, Cantoral said.

The kitchen will also be used for the nonprofit's "Cocinemos" program, formed in partnership with the City of Hillsboro, which focuses specifically on educating and assisting individuals in food-based entrepreneurship.

Previously, the cities of Hillsboro and Forest Grove have provided support for the program, allowing the participants to rent out their senior centers' kitchens.

"I believe that we will be one of the only commercial kitchens in Forest Grove when that's completed," she said. "This will help further our mission by allowing us to expand our programs and services to reach more people, because we know that the need is definitely there, and our mission really is to educate and empower Latina women and families. ... It's (going to be a) welcoming, safe place for anyone in the community, but also particularly our Latino community members who would be coming to us to send their children to our preschool, and moms who want to come and learn."

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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