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Comunidad Latina de Washington County Summit focuses on issues facing Latinos

May 17, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Representatives of various organizations spoke about issues facing the Latino community at the Comunidad Latina de Washington County Summit.
Representatives of various organizations spoke about issues facing the Latino community at the Comunidad Latina de Washington County Summit.

Organizations ranging from the Hagerstown Police Department to St. Joseph Church were represented Thursday at the Comunidad Latina de Washington County Summit, designed to give service-oriented entities a chance to discuss issues facing the Latino community in Washington County.

“We want to share experiences and, hopefully, come up with some plans and new ideas,” said Tony Dahbura, president of the board of Comunidad Latina de Washington County, at the event held at Hagerstown Community College. “We really don’t have an agenda.”

The summit began with breakfast and last-minute registration at 8 a.m., followd by an introduction by Dahbura and CLWC Director Gladys Rojas.

Representatives of various organizations also spoke about how certain issues facing the Latino community affect them and ways to address them.

“These are the organizations that interface with the individuals as their needs and challenges arise,” Dahbura said. “As a community, we need to give each member of our community the best opportunity to thrive.”

CLWC — also known as Latin Community of Washington County — is an organization established with the goal of assisting Latino members in Washington County with their needs, according to Dahbura.

The organizations represented included the Washington County Department of Social Services, Head Start of Washington County, HCC, the Washington County Free Library, the Washington County Health Department and Washington County Public Schools.

Officer Thomas Kelley, representing the city police department, said that the agency could learn better ways of interacting with different groups by attending events such as the summit.

“We can learn to communicate better to resolve problems effectively and efficiently within different cultural communities,” he said. “We’re and integral part of everybody’s life, and we’re constantly having to break boundaries and barriers.”

Sila Alegret-Bartel, owner of International Corporate Training and Marketing, which provides translation and interpretation services for the county school system, said “other local agencies can learn more about the Hispanic population at this summit, and how to serve them.”

Luis Pena, representing St. Joseph Church, said it was important for his church to get involved with the summit because it deals with many Latino people moving into the area.

“When they first move here, they usually come to us to see how they can do something for the town,” he said. “They’ll look for how to enroll their kids in the school programs, how to find a job, and how to get their kids into the health programs.”

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