Washington Invites Hispanic Families to Zoom With Local Organizations
Washington Middle School recently held a Family Zoom Night to introduce local organizations and the services they offer. An invitation message was sent to all Hispanic families to join the Zoom and hear from each organization.
Washington English as New Language teacher, Debbie Oakes, was hearing bits and pieces about local organizations and the services they offered, but didn't really understand what organizations provided which services, or how connections were made.
“I assumed if I didn’t know, then probably many of our parents also didn’t know. The organizations were eager to participate; they hope to strengthen their relationships and lines of communication with the Hispanic community. They want families to know that they are working to improve their outreach by creating bilingual materials as well as having bilingual staff available to answer questions.”
Each organization presented their services, some only in Spanish, while others presented in English with a Spanish translator. Washington Middle School Principal, Melissa Emerson, felt that this event was for the families, so if she and other English speakers didn't understand all that was being said, that was okay; the families were the focus of the evening. Eighth grader, Jenilca Laviena Vellon, and seventh grader, Neishalis Figueroa, helped with translations including: introducing and thanking each speaker and translating the closing remarks. Bilingual presenters, Yanira Castellano, Elimelec Perez and Ana Correa-Colon, also volunteered by translating for the organizations during the Zoom meeting.
It is very important to have resources like this for JPS’ Hispanic community.
“As more of our Hispanic families learn of these organizations, we're hoping that word of mouth, the best advertising, begins to spread,” said Mrs. Oakes.
Walmary Cruz, mother of a seventh grade Washington Middle School student, attended the event. As a result, her son attended the YMCA for the first time last week. Ms. Cruz said of the event, “I want to thank Washington Middle School for always helping my son, for being so great, and also for giving me the opportunity to go to the meeting. My son Gabriel really liked the experience at the YMCA. He came home with all of his work done and is making new friends. This moment is so hard because of the pandemic, and this helps him and I to not be so stressed. I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks once again.”
Washington Middle School would like to give a big thank you to the organizations who took the time to participate: YWCA, YMCA, Erie 2 BOCES, Boys & Girls Club, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, Chautauqua Striders and Jamestown Community Learning Council.
“We are extremely thankful for the positive attitudes of the organizations participating, as well as their willingness to donate their time and insight, just to be sure Jamestown's Hispanic families have information about all that is available for them,” said Mrs. Oakes. “We can’t thank them enough.”