The Brightside: Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center
EASTON, Md. – The Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center is a place dedicated to helping the immigrant community here on the Eastern Shore.
CMRC Director Matthew Peters explains, “Since 2012 we’ve seen quite a demographic shift in the area so our client base has grown from 55 to almost 3,500 clients that we’ve served all throughout the Eastern Shore,”
Whether its immigration translation or health services, this non-profit organization is dedicated to empowering immigrants to become members of their community.
But as the years have gone by, those services have changed and evolved as immigrant population began growing.
“We knew our clients and where they were at we just weren’t able to connect to the full extent to the good services even great services provided here on the Eastern Shore.”
So in order to close that gap, the resource center started the Language and Cultural Competence Project .
Dr. Lorelly Solano explains, “In a nutshell what we are trying to do is raising the bar for professional bilingual services in the community.”
It’s a training program to educate the community, especially local service providers like Easton Utilities about cultural differences just by starting a conversation.
“Where are you from, tell me about your family and when everyone realizes we have our own cultural identities and why we feel the way we do, why we feel so proud about who we are, where we come from it is so much easier to relate to each other as individuals.”
It’s a workshop that’s breaking down language and cultural barriers so that agencies can provide the same level of service to everyone, even those who may not speak English.
We are providing a good space for all types of agencies to come and start exploring that question, talking about it openly with the end goal being how are we going that good service at the end of the day and close those gaps,” adds Dr. Solano.
And so far over 900 people have gotten a chance to participate in this training to learn about how to help those that may come from a different culture.
Easton Utilities Customer Service Rep. Avonda Rounds says, “It’s actually been rewarding especially since we’ve had the class so when someone comes in that there is a language barrier trying to be comfortable in yourself and be able to help them to make them feel like were fine, we can do this we got this together we will get through this and most of the time we do.”
And for the times where that language barrier proves to be too challenging to break down, second language learners can now step in to help thanks to the training they’ve gotten through this project and Chesapeake Community College.
Spanish speaking Easton Utilities Customer Service Rep. Anderson Watson explains, “It was a great opportunity to learn how to help others talking about the bilingual part who doesn’t have the skills enough to access any kind of services.”
A role that’s priceless to those like Anderson Watson and Dr. Lorelly Solano, who were once in their shoes.
“It really means a lot because at the beginning I wasn’t fluent in English I was in the same spot and now being able to help others its very very meaningful to me.”
Dr. Solano adds, “I have that first hand experience of what it takes to feel comfortable. I know how hard I worked to be able to speak to you in this moment, so when you have had that privilege you feel like giving back and helping others that are coming behind so they can also adapt and succeed in the community.”