Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Crisis, El Centro Hispano has been responding to our
community’s need by increasing and expanding services to ensure we are here for our community during this tough time.
We have implemented new measures to expand our direct service, to address the community’s need
for resources, and created the El Centro Hispano COVID-19 Response Fund to help supplement groceries and medicines. We have also maintained communication with elected officials to increase access for the immigrant community to services created in response to this pandemic.
In this time of crisis, the most important focus for El Centro Hispano has been to address the emerging needs of our community as quickly as possible. To that end, our team knew we needed to act as this pandemic reached our country.
Prior to social distancing measures being ordered, our staff had already begun to put into place internal infrastructure to be prepared in case any further directions were given by our governments that would
prevent us from seeing our community members face to face.
This put us in a place to immediately comply with social distancing and stay at home orders as soon as they were given. We moved all of our education classes (60 people engaged), support groups (youth, LGBTQ, women’s group and day laborers), legal clinics and our team to virtual platforms and expanded our phone lines for increased direct service.
These measures ensured that vital services to our community would still be available through this harsh time. Our actions proved to be an invaluable resource for the community and the organization as it allowed us to engage in real time with the needs of our community. Today, we have three open phone lines where our community can reach us for help.
Additionally, all our team is communicating with our participants every day and have published vital, truthful, and pertinent information on our social media pages to inform our community.
While El Centro Hispano staff knew there would be an influx of calls, we could not have predicted such an
increase in the number of calls. Since the stay at home orders were put in place, calls from community members seeking reliable information and resources to support their families have exponentially increased from 183 to 434 in a month.
As leaders in the community and a place where people come for resources, the team knew we
needed to find a way to respond to the needs we heard every day from our community. Our families told us they needed food and other supplies such as canned food, bread, cleaning supplies, hygiene products and more.
As soon as we became aware of this need, we began asking, receiving and distributing donations of food and other supplies that helped 85 families, with a combined total of 152 children and 197 adults. The need has kept growing, while our supplies diminished. As a result, we created the El Centro Hispano COVID-19 Response fund.
The El Centro Hispano COVID-19 Response Fund was first launched on March 21st with an initial ask of
$15,000. Since that day, we have received over 250 applications and about $30,000 through our
Out of the applications, we have been able to process half of them and assist 93 families, helping 430 people, 197 of them children to date. The applicants have the ability to ask for the assistance they need, then someone on our team will reach out to the community member to see in which other ways we can help.
Many time applicants will need far more than the assistance we are able to provide with the fund. Our team has assisted applicants in applying for unemployment, provided resources to get medical attention and provided clear and accurate information of the crisis.
El Centro Hispano has been collaborating with private medical providers who have been able to assist 204 people with primary consultation. In addition, our health promoters have been in direct contact with 149 people to talk about COVID-19 and other issues such as hypertension and diabetes in the last 30 days.
We are proud to say we have been assisting 3 Latinx families with a family member who became ill and are now recovering from COVID-19. The largest challenge yet is that many of the people who apply for the fund or call us for assistance do not qualify for government benefits. Those conversations have fueled our advocacy.
From the beginning, El Centro Hispano’s role in the community has been more than providing services. We know that it is our duty to advocate so that our community not only has a place at the table, but that decisions made reflect their needs.
During this time, we have been in constant contact with lawmakers, elected officials, medical service providers, government agencies and community leaders to push so that all measures taken include the undocumented and immigrant communities. We must remember that many people in the immigrant community do not qualify for many government benefits designed to support people during this time, yet have contributed for years to the vitality of this state and country.
Our community needs financial assistance. They need access to medical services without fear of repercussions. They need their businesses to receive aid. They need to be considered when decision makers are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis.
El Centro Hispano will continue to ensure our community has a resource in us, yet our local and state
governments must act to protect our community as well. We stand behind all the actions taken thus far to ensure the virus spread is slowed and lives are saved, but now it’s time to provide assistance so that our community does not end up in crisis in the attempt to avoid the one we are in now.
We call on local and state government to issue aid for the immigrant and undocumented community. Local and state governments can respond to the needs of our people by creating a fund where our community can seek financial assistance, expanding eligibility for unemployment, and expanding Medicare. During this time of crisis, we stand with our community and so should the state to benefit greatly for their hard work.