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Los Amigos Call for Action With Pancakes, Passion, and Patience

Los Amigos have also taken on controversial issues. In 2007 it successfully led a recall effort against a local school-board member whose opinions were considered racist. They have sparred with a county sheriff who trained deputies to enforce immigration law, spurred people to run for city council, and considered getting measures on local ballots.

Yet its composition remains loose, with no formal board of directors, dues, budget, or bank account. David was propelled into community service by his observations of workplace discrimination in the 1970s: Latinos getting passed over for promotions, seldom rising to supervisory and management positions, and being the last hired and first laid-off. The possibility that discrimination still exists, he says, helps keep the group honest and united.

Perhaps what most shapes the culture of Los Amigos is the lengthy "Yo Yo" portion of the meetings. David asks attendees to talk about themselves, their "yo." How did they meet their spouses? Why did they pick their careers? He follows up by congratulating them on their successes."We want them to get a serene sense of belonging," David explains. "We want them to feel like they have [dropped] an anchor here."

The meetings always end with attendees forming a circle and holding hands. Some “throw something in the middle,” David says, such as prayers for a sick member or neighbor.

At a recent meeting, Araceli Cazales, 52, accompanied by Rodolfo her husband of 29 years, threw in a prayer for everyone who is a part of Los Amigos: "They always have open hands and hearts. As a Latino, this is the respect you always look for. Amin David goes above and beyond. He works to encourage us all, especially young people, who are our future."

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