09 Sep Getting to Know the Community
Towards the middle of my internship I had the opportunity to volunteer in the local Latinx community I am outreaching out to, known as “El Punto” or the “The Point.” I volunteered with the North Shore Community Development Coalition, which is non-profit based directly in the neighborhood.
North Shore CDC invests in neighborhoods, including El Punto, to help create thriving communities. Per their website, they use their community-focused development model to invest resources into low-income or distressed neighborhoods on the North Shore to improve the quality of life for residents. They are committed to the community though affordable housing, economic and youth development, community engagement, and urban art.
I have been in communication with a couple of their WONDERFUL staff members on their team in order to help create a relationship between them and Salem Maritime and Saugus Ironworks National Historic Sites, which I am extremely excited about! An update twill come very soon!
I recently volunteered to help distribute resident care packages to members of the neighborhood. The packages included personal care items, PPE, educational materials, diapers, feminine products, cleaning supplies, and more. This was in conjunction with the local food pantry, so residents were also able to get fresh veggies and dairy products. There was also folks there to help residents fill out the 2020 census, as this helps determine how much federal funding communities will receive for roads, schools, housing, and social programs. While I was speaking to some of the Census workers there, they explained to me that it is often difficult to get large immigrant communities and neighborhoods to fill out the census, because many times there are undocumented folks in the community who believe they will get reported (which is false!). There is also the language barrier that keeps folks from filling the census out. All of this results in lower funding for the communities that really need it. It was really nice to see the workers out there explaining this to everyone and making sure community members filled it out!
My job during this event was to hand out the packages and to serve as an interpreter. Most of the residents spoke primarily Spanish, so while I was there I was able to help explain what was being offered and the layout of the event. I’ve been an interpreter all my life, from interpreting to my parents, random strangers while i’ve been out and about, an unintentional interpreter at my jobs working at grocery stores, and a formal interpreter at State and National Parks. So this was something I was used to, and as always very thankful I could preform this service to my community.
It was great to see the community coming together to help one another out. Just as I mentioned in my last blog post, I felt very at home. Hearing the jokes, the community members speak to each other, and the loud music all felt very familiar to me. Everyone was so thankful and friendly during the event, it made me so happy and proud to be part of the beautiful Latinx community. Overall, this work is definitely something I will be bringing home with me and encouraging others to do!