Ada Jenkins Center combines services
by Staff Writer
The Ada Jenkins Center has cut its Latino Services program and eliminated the position of Latino Services Coordinator, combining those services with other programs. Development Director Natisha Rivera-Patrick said however, services will still be available and nothing will change for those seeking help.
All of Ada Jenkins’ programs are inclusive, she said, with translators available to identify and serve needs. Latino Services had grown to be its own department, and she said now the center’s 21 programs will be more inclusive.
“With that particular program, we were separating that part of the population,” Rivera-Patrick said. “It was a strategic approach to integrate, rather than separate.”
But some volunteers are not sure that the change is for the best.
Davidson College student Will Denison has volunteered with Latino Services since 2009. “Latino Services strove to narrow the communication barrier and the cultural gap that separates these families from the services they need to access through interpretation, translation, information, referrals, awareness, and education,” Denison said.
Cutting the program and eliminating the coordinator creates a gap between Ada Jenkins and the Latino community, he said.
“There is no longer a full-time, bilingual and bicultural employee at the center,” Denison said. “My opinion is that it is harder for Ada staff to communicate and help a client with complex needs.”
Denison and other volunteers worry that even with a translator on-hand, communication will still suffer.
“Before Latino Services was dissolved, there was an Ada employee who was able to communicate and assist the client directly,” Denison said. “Now, the Latino client has indirect contact with center staff because staff has to rely on a third person – a volunteer or the part-time interpreter.”
Latino clients will still have access to the same services, but their experience may be less personal.
Spanish-speaking clients used to come in to talk with the coordinator, Denison said, about personal problems or just to chat. Now, Denison says, they will only really come for emergency or long-term assistance.
With streamlined programming, work at Ada Jenkins can be more efficient, but some volunteers may also lose opportunities. Davidson College volunteers recruited in August for Latino Services no longer have work to do, Denison said.