When Pastor Samuel Rodriguez and his family moved to Savannah in 1995, his goal was to establish a protestant church for the region’s growing Hispanic population. Now, 20 years later, there are at least a dozen churches serving Latinos in the Savannah area.
But under Rodriguez’ leadership, the congregation of First Hispanic Baptist Church, continues to grow in both numbers and auxiliary services to the community.
“From the beginning, I have always believed that our church should serve four separate and distinct roles in the community,” Rodriguez said. “First and foremost, we serve the spiritual needs of our people because we know that if a man is out of touch with God, no other part of his life can be fulfilled. But we also serve the social needs- we promote positive relationships between husbands and wives and their families and friends. We serve their physical needs through our medical services and our food pantry as well as their practical needs by giving free haircuts and offering language and computer classes. And we serve the psychological needs of our community through counseling and advisory services.”
Two years ago, the First Hispanic Baptist Church applied for and received a broadcast license from The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate a low frequency FM Radio station and Radio Pesca- 94.7-FM was born.
In it’s early days, all of Radio Pesca’s programming was prerecorded but beginning in January of this year, Pastor Rodriguez and his associate, Isabel Haring, began offering live broadcasts Monday through Friday from 9a.m. to 1p.m. Church staff and bilingual volunteers host all of the shows.
“Our goal is to provide a variety of radio programming for our listeners,” Sra. Haring said. “Every morning from 9 to 10am, Iris Sarria, a local businesswoman and entertainer, hosts a morning show where she discusses a wide range of topics including the latest news and weather.”
Haring, a healthcare professional, said that Radio Pesca offers the community important information related to both physical and mental health.
“Last week Jennifer Sotomayor, bilingual legal advocate for Savannah’s Safe Shelter, came in to our studios and talked to our listeners about domestic violence and important options for victims seeking assistance,” Haring said. “Marta Kaufman, a certified medical interpreter and licensed clinical social worker hosts a radio show each Thursday from 10-11am. She also leads an anger management class here in our clinic every Thursday afternoon from 4 to 5pm for people who have been ordered by the criminal justice system to undergo counseling.”
Radio Pesca’s live programming has also reunited Haring and Pastor Rodriguez with Dr. Miriam Rittmeyer, a longtime friend and colleague. Rittmeyer received her PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina and served as the director of Community Health Mission where she worked with Haring before that free clinic closed its doors a year and a half ago.
“I now host a show about public health issues on Radio Pesca each Tuesday from 11a.m. to noon,” Dr. Rittmeyer said. “As vice-chair of the Board of Directors of Centro Hispano, Savannah’s primary outreach agency for the Latino community, I can continue our collaboration with Pastor Samuel’s church and the medical services it provides to the community.”
Isabel Haring encourages listeners to contact the station by email at email@example.com with prayer requests, suggestions for show topics or to pass along birthday greetings which will be shared over the air.
“We understand the tremendous potential this radio station has for improving people’s lives and bringing them the good news of the gospel,” she said. “Our vision is to show the love of God through what we say and what we do.”