The Center of Help has been serving the immigrant community since 1999. According to Poverty Amidst Plenty VI (2018), published by the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, “The Hispanic population is growing more significantly than all other races/ethnicities and is now at 7.3 percent (41,275 residents) of the county’s population. The county has the fourth largest Hispanic population….among Maryland counties. The location of the Hispanic population in the county is uneven, with… just over 20 percent of the population in Annapolis.”
In 2018, the Center of Help assisted 2,614 individuals (including 60+ children) for a total of 5,247 cases (a 23% increase over 2017's 4,283 cases) at our Annapolis office. We are the sole nonprofit organization in the area assisting immigrants to assimilate into the U.S. culture, language, and customs. The challenges facing our client population are well documented and diverse. According to Poverty Amidst Plenty VI: “The Hispanic community lives in clusters within the county, in close proximity to public and subsidized housing and low rent private accommodations. Many family members live together in overcrowded conditions; some townhouses hold up to four families. Approximately 90 percent of families are sharing homes. Many Hispanic residents are actively seeking English lessons, but lack transportation…and lack time due to long working hours. Children of Hispanic families spend many hours alone as the parent/caregiver often works two or three jobs. School personnel and others report that hunger is a problem….governmental systems, from the city and county police departments to the public schools and health systems, are struggling to adequately respond….”
The Center of Help helps fill these service gaps. Our clients arrive in the U.S. not prepared to navigate the education, legal, and health systems. Most also share the disadvantages of low income, limited education, and little or no knowledge of English. COH has a long history of effectively serving this population because the assistance we provide is offered in a culturally-appropriate, welcoming environment.
Children of our client families also face adversity. The Poverty Amidst Plenty VI report says, “mentoring programs continue to be high on everyone’s list of needs….for adults who can act as role models and support the youth who have little parental supervision….” The Anne Arundel County Public School 2017 Report Card states that there are over 11,000 Hispanic/Latino students enrolled in the school system, representing 13% of the total student body. According to the AA County report (2017) “Readiness Matters”, only 27% of Hispanic children demonstrate readiness for kindergarten, 18 points lower than their County peers. AA County Hispanic/Latino students face many obstacles that prevent them from achieving full potential. The majority have a low-level educational background, some being illiterate in their own language; many students fail because they can't understand their school work and don't have anyone at home to help them.
Our impact 2018
The Center of Help responds to the increased low income immigrant community in Anne Arundel County and helps people navigate different services in the community, solve problems, learn English, become citizens, and learn computer and financial literacy. The Center of Help offers other adult educational programs and youth and children programs.
We are proud to present our 2018 Annual Report, which offers a glimpse into our work—and the impact of generous support from government entities, corporations, foundations and individuals.
In 2018, the Center of Help:
- Resolved over 5,000 cases
- Provided 40 children with educational opportunities
- Held the first summer camp for children and youth
- Graduated 6 people to become American Citizens
- Provided food, diapers and other items to 250 families
- Connected women and youth with support groups
- Provided support through safe spaces to 15 youth with María de la Paz Youth Outreach Center from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM
- Provided parenting support to all families with students in our programs
- Served over 800 Anne Arundel County families, 506 of which are female head of household
- Offered three community events: Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta Grande, Día de los Muertos, and a Holiday Party for low income families
- Developed partnerships for collaboration to improve programs: Maryland Hall, Anne Arundel Conflict Resolution Center, Annapolis Soccer Club, Tennis Alliance, Compass Rose Theater, CRAB Sailing, Historic Annapolis, Anne Arundel Library, Anne Arundel Police Department, Annapolis Police Department, Arundel Child Care Connections, Seeds for Success, South River Federation, Arundel Lodge, City of Annapolis, Motivation Education (ECRC), Anne Arundel Community College, Maryland Healthcare Connections, SEEDCO, Honda of Annapolis, Transportation Solutions, St. Margaret’s Church, USNA Midshipmen, Howard Community College, and more
- Trained 7 women become child care providers
- Worked more than 2,600 cases for people accessing health services
- Helped 33 asylees
- Assisted around 100 families to renew their documents with the Mexican, Salvadorian and Honduran Embassies
- More than 200 volunteers supported the work of the Center of Help
- Provided workshops to the community to learn about home buying, types of insurances and more
- Provided ESOL classes
- Provided Computer and Financial Literacy Classes
- Provides pro-bono legal assistance twice a month with an immigration lawyer and a criminal and civil litigation lawyer
- Offered a scholarship fund of $6,000 dollars for students of Anne Arundel Community College
- Began a scholarship fund for $37,000 for college students