Lydia León, Community Service

Lydia Leon standing in front of Centro Hispano signNancy Jorn with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and I, as witnesses of these recent demographic changes, formed the Latino Community Coalition. Along with other community members, we learned about these changes and took action in order to facilitate welcoming attitudes in our community and address issues our Latino immigrant neighbors experience. One outcome of our work was the creation of the Centro Hispano Resource Center. Through the collaboration of Success By Six of Douglas County, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, and the Health Department, we opened the center in August 2006 to continue the work of the Coalition.

At the Centro Hispano, we provide a safe, welcoming, comfortable environment for Spanish speakers and other Latinos in our community. All staff and volunteers that have direct contact with families are bilingual in English and Spanish. In this way, families can communicate their experiences and we can provide orientation and support in addressing issues they face.

My passion for working with the Latino immigrant community arose from my interest in the Spanish language. Learning Spanish was crucial to my entering and continuing in this field of work because through studying Spanish I also learned about Latin American cultures and immigration to the United States. Language opened the doors to a new world and eventually to new realities of Spanish speakers here in the United States. When a person is able to give voice to their experience, they often take a giant step in being able to achieve their goal. We offer Latino immigrants this opportunity at the Centro Hispano.

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