“This was a dream for me for years and years,” says Maria Fore, a board member with Nuestro Centro, the new Hispanic community center in West Asheville. Fore worked as an interpreter at Mission Hospitals. “My cell phone was full of contact numbers for all sorts of services and organizations,” she explains, “and I found myself doing referrals one on one. I saw that we needed a place, a center, that could make connections for the whole community.”
Together with Ada Volkmer, Misha Maren-Hogan, Andrea Golden, Maria Rodarte, Megan Jackson and Althea Gonzales, Fore recently launched the project, with help from the Calvary Baptist Church on Haywood Road. “The church opened the door to us, and we are very grateful for that,” she emphasizes. Many church members are Hispanic, and Calvary Baptist offers both English- and Spanish-language services.
Initially, the center will function as an information-and-referral service, helping newcomers find housing and jobs, get utility hookups and connect with schools, medical and social services. But board members are already making plans to offer workshops in conjunction with local government agencies and nonprofits. “We will add ESL courses and computer classes, too,” adds Fore. “While we intend to make all of our services accessible in Spanish, we know it is urgent for newcomers to be able to converse in English as well.”
The center needs volunteers as well as cash donations. “I hope we get a lot of phone calls from people who want to help,” says Fore. “This isn’t just for Hispanics—it is for the benefit of the whole community.”
Nuestro Centro is located in Calvary Baptist Church, 531 Haywood Road and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more info, call 255-2987.