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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Emma Pineda of Rose Park winces during a glucose test she received through Comunidades Unidas, which recently left Midvale.

Comunidades Unidas hasn't been slowed by a recent split from the city of Midvale nor by some volunteers' decision to strike out on their own, says its director, Sabrina Morales.

Last month, the nonprofit — focused on health outreach — ended its years-long partnership with Midvale, saying it was a move to continue growing the organization.

"We've always been continuing to work," said Morales. "We did transition to a more central location to be able to serve the communities we've been serving."

Comunidades Unidas is planning an open house at its new location, 1341 S. State, on May 1 from 2 to 6 p.m. It is also continuing its partnership with the Salt Lake Mexican Consulate. This past week, the organization's mobile health clinic was outside the consulate.

Several volunteers raised concerns about the nonprofit's leadership when it moved out of donated space owned by the city. Those volunteers called for an audit of the agency at the time.

Now, they're setting out on their own. Mary Cruz Juarez, a former volunteer for Comunidades Unidas, says she's among about 100 volunteers who are forming a new nonprofit.

When the nonprofit split from the city, Mauricio Agramont, Midvale's community developer, said the city would revive its Neighbor to Neighbor program to continue outreach to low-income residents.

Agramont, who did not return phone calls for comment, had said Comunidades Unidas had outgrown Midvale. Morales says the move had been planned for two years as Comunidades was looking for a more central location to focus on its statewide outreach.

Meanwhile, Morales says the volunteers who broke apart from Comunidades Unidas are a minority. She says the nonprofit continues to have a strong volunteer base, with more than 500 from the Multicultural Health Network and more than 500 from the Utah Latino Network.

"We have been a statewide agency since 2002," Morales said. "A more central location would make us look better for our funders."

Juarez says La Casa Del Pueblo is being developed after Comunidades Unidas didn't resolve the volunteers' concerns. The new organization is looking at potential locations in either Midvale or West Valley City, she says, and has already planned an open house for April 28.

"We're going to stick with what we had before, health programs," she said. "We're going to have some tobacco cessation programs as well. ... We're going to start all over."

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