Facts and Questions
Our mission is to engage and empower Chattanooga's Latino population through advocacy, education, and inclusion. To learn how we put the mission in action, please see Our Mission.
La Paz Chattanooga is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit in the state of Tennessee. It was founded in 2004 after a collective group of individuals, including several Christian pastors, came together to recognize the need for an organization to serve the needs of the growing Latino community in Chattanooga. La Paz de Dios - "The Peace of God" - was chosen as the official name of the oganization.
The main goal of La Paz is to serve as a safe and caring center of peace that welcomes foreigners in our community with the desire to help them transition to become full and active participants in the city's growth and footprint. This is inheritantly a Christian principle that still exists today and is reflected in every program and service that La Paz offers.
While La Paz de Dios still is the official name registered under the State of Tennessee, the organization rebranded around 2010 to La Paz Chattanooga in order to help combat the public confusion of La Paz de Dios being a Spanish speaking church. To this day, La Paz Chattanooga maintains its Christian principles as its guide in serving the Latino community.
La Paz Chattanooga has both a client based membership and a community membership. For those who utilize La Paz's direct client services, they are automatically enrolled as program members at La Paz. For the general public, those who want to be involved in community activities and events are invited to become members of Compañía, a La Paz initiative that serves to connect the Latino community and those interested in it. Additionally, it provides opportunties for fellowship and professional development.
In addition, many recognize themselves as financial supporters of La Paz Chattanooga as annual campaign members.
Many use these words interchangeably, but in reality Latino, Hispanic, and Spanish all have different meanings. If you notice in our materials, La Paz uses mainly Latino. So, let's tackle the often debated definitions of these terms.
- Hispanic generally refers to someone who is from Spanish-speaking culture/heritage (so Brazilians are not Hispanic, but Dominicans are).
- Spanish refers to people who speak Spanish and/or people who come from Spain (so those from Spain, Chile, Equitorial Guinea are all Spanish).
- Latino refers to those who hail from a heritage geographically situated in Latin America (so, Brazilians, Chileans, Mexicans, Dominicans, and arguably even Haitians, who don't speak Spanish, can be identified under Latino).
Of course, there's a lot of debate about the geographical footprint of "Latin America," where some hold that it only refers to those from South American countries, while others include Central American and Caribbean nations as well. But, Latino typically does NOT include those from Spain or those from Spanish speaking nations outside of the Western Hemisphere (such as Equitorial Guinea for example, which is located on the west coast of Africa).
So, have we made this clear as mud for you? Probably.
But to be on the safe side, since the majority of our clients fall into the above "Latino" definition, that is the term we most often use here at La Paz Chattanooga.