• December 2011

Finding Solace at Centro de Ayuda (Center of Help)

By Courtney Garton
Volunteer
Centro de Ayuda

A man collapsed in his church, bleeding and vomiting. Later, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He had no health insurance, no job, and before he died, he wanted to see his family back home in Guatemala.

Annapolis’ Centro de Ayuda came to the rescue.

Case workers visited him in the hospital several times, helped him apply for financial assistance from the hospital, and tried to access Skype to communicate home, but there was no wireless Internet in his room, because he didn’t have health insurance.

Then, they contacted the Guatemalan Embassy, which donated the plane fare to send him home.

After a three-week hospital stay, he returned to his local residence, only to find his belongings thrown into the street and ruined because he had not paid rent. The Center of Help arranged to acquire some new clothes for him, as well as needed medicines.

The man had not been paid in two months, and he was the sole support of his family back home in Guatemala. The Center of Help was instrumental in arranging for donations to help the family.

The Center of Help arranged for transportation to the airport. The gentleman successfully returned to his homeland, where a week later, surrounded by his family, he died.

That example is just one of many each month that illustrates how the Center of Help assists local Latinos in need.

In addition to handling everyday crises, the Center of Help provides continuing classes to help Spanish-speaking students learn English.

The classes are held several days a week, each class lasting about 90 minutes. Classes are well attended, with participants of all ages, both men and women. The students are enthusiastic and involved. They are eager to learn, eager to fit into the American culture. The Center of Help is a valuable resource to assist Hispanics in achieving these goals.

For more than 10 years, the nonprofit Center of Help has assisted 2,500 families each year assimilate successfully into U.S. culture, assuring that they become employed, educated, and fully participating members of American society.

The Center has won numerous awards: the Governor’s Hispanic Service Award, the Non-Profit of the Year Award from The Junior League of Annapolis, the Excellence in Voluntarism Merit Award from the Annapolis Chamber of Commerce, and others.

But the Center of Help has been hit hard by budget cuts. Public funds have almost dried up. Grant money is scarce. With a very small staff (only three people) and many volunteers, the Center depends heavily on individual and corporate donations to survive.

The Center of Help will not survive beyond early next year unless it gets more funds.

Every dollar received directly supports its vital services, programs, and hard-working staff. Every donation is used effectively and efficiently. With your contribution, new Americans will become productive members of our society.

To help, click here to learn more: www.centrodeayuda.org.

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