At People en Español's Festival, administrators for several immensely popular Facebook groups discussed how they're using the platform to enrich the Latinx community.

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People en Español Hosts 6th Annual Festival To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month - Day 2
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At People en Español's Festival this past weekend, several Latinx professionals participated in a panel about how they use Facebook groups to empower their communities. Though many people still think of Facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, the panelists explained that it's also a great tool for meeting people experiencing the same issues and finding resources. “Together we are more unified,” said Janet Sanchez, founder of Esposas Militares Hispanas USA, a nonprofit that supports military families facing language barriers. “As a community, we have the chance to grow and do more in the world that needs us.”

The panel also featured Sergio Rosario, founder of Soy Super Papá; Angelica Perez-Litwin, founder of Latinas Think Big; and Ezra Morales, director of the nonprofit Trans Student Educational Resources. “My mother was a single mother … so my mother strived to raise all of her children, and she always made sure we had a positive male example present, whether it was my grandpa, uncles, cousins,” said Rosario, explaining why he created a group for Latino fathers across the U.S. “She was the inspiration behind me realizing that I was part of a new generation, and that I did not want other children to grow up without a paternal figure.”

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Morales said they were motivated to start the group so that transgender youth would have a place to learn and organize. “We model the people who came before us and started the activism work for transgender youth of color before us,” Morales said. “[Activist] Sylvia Rivera actually is one of my main inspirations … she was only 17 when she established one of the first youth collectives. She was taking in transgender youth from all across New York and was housing and providing basic needs for all of them: food, a roof, clothes. That's how we keep on doing the work that we do, because a lot of it is focused on, ‘OK, who is going to do the work for us if not us?'”

One of the great things about using Facebook for these groups is that the founders are able to see their impact in real time. Asked when she knew her group was making a difference, Perez-Litwin responded with a story about Erica Alfaro, a young college graduate who shared a photo with her parents, a farm worker and landscaper, in a strawberry field. “She wanted to commemorate and thank her parents for the hard work they did by coming to this country,” Perez-Litwin explained. “She shared it in our online community Latinas Think Big, and the photo went viral. I have seen it everywhere and it inspired a lot of us.”