COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Our Lady of Guadalupe Center in Columbus is working to expand social services to the Hispanic community. The center's director, Ramona Reyes, said she strives to find more Spanish-speaking professionals and providers in the central Ohio region
“The next step is for us to go out and find those Spanish speaking or culturally appropriate providers in our community and I will tell you they are extremely limited. We're talking 2-3 providers that actually speak Spanish,” Reyes said.
The United States Census Bureau reports there are more than 450,000 people of Latin/Hispanic descent in Ohio. However, the number the Spanish-speaking resource centers in our area are slim. The issue is social services like mental health care and access to food can be expensive and unattainable due to lack of funding.
“It’s not only a language issue, it’s a poverty issue.” Reyes said.
The lack of access to Spanish focused resources can cause those in the community to turn down help. This means folks are going without food and medicine because they do not have wide access to providers within their culture.
“We all know that in order to share and be vulnerable you need to build a relationship with your counselor so there are a lot of issues that occur when we don't have those services to support not only Latinos, but anyone whole speaks in another language that currently not being served here in Franklin County,” Reyes said.
Reyes’ organization is now teaming with Ohio state government agencies to offer legal advice to Spanish-speaking Ohioans that otherwise would not have the funding for the services. The Our Lady of Guadalupe Center plans to collaborate with ADAMH, city attorneys, and the Ohio Supreme Court to aid in more accessible services.
“We're having those conversations on how we can bring all of our resources together and hopefully come up with a plan that doesn't only services Spanish speakers but any and all folks where English is a second language.” Reyes said.
Reyes said it is always looking for help, and that does not only include monetary donations. Every Wednesday and Thursday, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center hands out food to qualifying Ohioans.
“I’m encouraged by being able to provide those services.”