GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — For more than 20 years, the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina has served the Latino community in Eastern North Carolina. The nonprofit focuses on culture, education, leadership, health, advocacy, and international programs.

Juvencio Rocha Peralta cofounded AMEXCAN in 2001. The organization serves 16 counties across North Carolina.

“I’m surprised to what we see 21 years later, but we are grateful that we are welcome to our communities with this vision of addressing Latino issues,” said Rocha Peralta, AMEXCAN’s executive director. “We need to cultivate our own story, the stories, so we can set a history behind the struggles, the opportunities, but also the greatest accomplishments the Latino community has made to North Carolina.”

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Besides serving the Latino community, AMEXCAN works to build leaders within and outside of its organization. In 2017, AMEXCAN at ECU was established as a student organization on the campus of East Carolina University.

“The membership of AMEXCAN ECU is really – over 140 members of this club. An accomplishment that was done not by my leadership, but the people who were around me,” said Rocha Peralta.

Francisco Solano participated in AMEXCAN at ECU. After graduating from ECU, he became the nonprofit’s director of educational programs.

“My main goal is to find a way to connect communities, community-based organizations and academic institutions, so whether it be research focused initiatives, whether it be community outreach or just involving the Líderes del Futuro, the Leaders of the Future, the youth,” said Solano.

Francisco Solano pictured in the center with Major P.J. Connelly. (AMEXCAN photo)

Rocha Peralta said his passion is also helping others. He works to figure out how AMEXCAN can help other Latinos face challenges just as he did when he migrated to the United States.

“I moved here from Mexico when I was 16 years old by myself, not having any relatives living in the states. But one of the things that I always have passion is to help others,” said Rocha Peralta.

“The first thing that comes into my mind is how we can get the community to get involved on recreational activities and cultural activities and then and overall when the community begins to grow and begin coming up, some issues that I think are important to the community. That’s when I got more passion to help the community interact, to make a difference.”

(Photos Courtesy of Juvencio Rocha Peralta)

He is reminded of what his mother taught him when he migrated from Mexico to the United States.

“I’m always reminded of what my mother taught me when I left home over 40 years ago. Never forget where you come from. And that’s the message that I have for the Latino community, for the children of my brothers and sisters, to never be ashamed of who you are. Be proud,” said Rocha Peralta.

To learn more information about AMEXCAN and its community efforts, click right here.