She thrives on connecting Napa's Latino population

“I hope the coffee is not too strong for you,” Rejane Brito said. Too strong? This was Brazilian coffee, which she’d especially brought to the office to energize an early-morning meeting.

Like the coffee, Brito hails from Brazil, and for the past year and a half, she’s been bringing her own style of energy to a nonprofit that has been quietly growing in Napa.

Puertas Abiertas — “open doors” — began as a program of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in 2005, with a mission to help underserved Latino congregants become self-sufficient. Offering help with reading and writing in Spanish and English, as well as opportunities to improve skills for living and working in Napa, the organization grew so much they decided it could serve more people by becoming an independent organization, Brito explained.

It’s still housed in a small building across the street from St. John’s and adjacent to St. John’s Hall, but the doors there are open to anyone who can benefit from their services.

“Last year we served 480 families,” Brito said. “We still focus on self-sufficiency, but people come here with all kinds of questions and problems — ‘I’m losing my house,’ ‘My son is using drugs,’ ‘I’m getting a divorce’  READ MORE

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