The first stop for many newly arrived Latino immigrants, many of whom don’t speak English, is Centro Latino Americano on 5th Avenue. This nonprofit describes itself as a safety net for the Latino community in our region, one that is even more necessary in light of President-elect Donald Trump denouncing Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.
The Spanish-speaking staff at Centro works with immigrants to secure community services that would otherwise require speaking English, like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) cards, drug addiction counseling, help with tax IDs, securing bus passes and signing up for the Oregon Health Plan.
“We’ve been here since 1972,” says David Sáez, executive director of CLA. “We’re kind of the backbone of support for community members that are often Spanish speaking. Many of them are economically not doing as well.”
The center serves more than 600 Latino individuals per year.
A donation to CLA can help young and old immigrants alike. “We had a client come in — a woman who had some medical issues,” Sáez says. “She and her family were uninsured and it was involving a surgery. They had a $10,000 bill they were faced with. Our case manager worked with them to find programs that provided support for indigent community members to cover medical expenses.”
A CLA caseworker helped connect the family with Bridge, a program with Peace Health, to pay the bill.
Donations can be made on the CLA website: centrolatinoamericano.org.