Read the original story in Spanish at Westchester Hispano
Translated and condensed by Carlos Rodríguez Martorell
Last week, after El Centro Hispano, Inc., in White Plains announced it would reopen and resume offering regular community services for the first time since the pandemic, people started gathering in front of the building early.
One of the first to arrive was María Nancy Pilco, from Peru, who was happy to be able to benefit from the services provided by the non-profit organization.
“We are very glad about the reopening of Centro Hispano and the help they give us all, and I hope that people continue to come here to receive the services as always,” said Pilco. “We missed this place because it is where we turn to when we need help to solve our problems.”
The popular nonprofit is now open Monday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m., though customers will not be allowed to enter the offices and will instead receive assistance through a dedicated window.
While the organization worked remotely for 87 days due to the COVID-19 crisis, they were able to keep offering services remotely during that time.
“People’s needs were too great, and there were days when we received up to 159 calls seeking help about finding work and food assistance, while other people were seeking medical services for entire families affected by the coronavirus,” said Isabel Villar, executive director of El Centro Hispano.
According to Villar, the organization’s greatest achievement is to have provided economic assistance to undocumented people thanks to private donations.
“We have been able to aid 245 families of undocumented immigrants for a total of some one thousand individuals. Donations have reached nearly $75,000. The people who have received economic assistance had to comply with requirements such as living in the area, having lost their job and lacking legal status in the U.S., among other things,” said Villar.
Another one of their major achievements during the lockdown has been maintaining their food assistance program.
“At first, we went to the Post Road School and about 500 people showed up, which proves that the situation we are going through is very serious,” said the director.
The center has also helped people with eviction orders to stay in their apartments, which was possible with the assistance of the White Plains police, who informed property owners that the law forbids evicting tenants during the pandemic.
The services offered by Centro Hispano resumed last Tuesday. Adult classes will also begin again; English as a Second Language, citizenship and GED in Spanish courses, offered remotely, are starting as well. People living in any part of Westchester may sign up.