MARYLAND

Prince George's County community center caters to Spanish-speaking residents

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LANGLEY PARK, Md. (WJLA) - Residents in Langley Park and its surrounding areas have a new community center that caters specifically to their needs.

Prince George's County officials say the center is one of a kind in their community, and will aim to meet some on-going challenges, including alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

The 'one-stop-shop' offers job training, nutrition programs, counseling and resources to apply for federal assistance, bridging some gaps for the largely immigrant and spanish-speaking population.

"Many immigrants who come to the United States are somewhat nervous about engaging with government," said Betty Hager Francis, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Health & Human Services and Education.

The idea is to open doors, and keep the help flowing-- a process influenced by challenges brought to the county's attention.

"Whatever the need was, and we would refer them to different agencies they just get lost, they didn't know how to get there or because of the language, a lot of them don't have transportation, and a lot of the social services offices are in Largo, Upper Marlboro," said Merecedes Lemos, with the county's health department.

Counselors and family service advocates say the center will tackle tough issues like domestic violence and drug abuse. Immigration status won't be asked when someone is asking for help in those situations, but other restrictions apply.

"There are certain benefits that undocumented immigrants are not eligible for, and we will have to do that filter before engaging for those particular services such as medicaid," said Hager Francis.

Children of undocumented parents will still be eligible for most programs.

The center will be open Monday through Thursday, 8am to 7:30pm. Fridays the center closes at 6pm.
Two more centers are expected to open in the central and southern parts of the county.

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