A Better Life, in Any Language

December 6, 2006

A better life in any language - young Hispanic woman.Limited education and a language barrier can prevent families from getting much-needed services. With literacy and health care high on its agenda, the Community Foundation is stepping up to support the local community.

“Our Grants Committee really wanted to focus on the critical needs that our community is wrestling with,” says Community Foundation coordinator Jennifer Anderson.

In 2006, the Monmouth Grants Committee allocated more than $90,000 in discretionary grants. Two of the more unique programs receiving grants include a community college scholarship program, and a telephone translation service for those needing healthcare.

The Source Foundation at Red Bank Regional High School

Teenagers from immigrant families have a high dropout rate. “There’s a lot of pressure on these kids to go to work to help support their families,” according to Anderson. As a result, they don’t go to college.

The Source Foundation is tackling this problem. It is funding a program called Puente al Futuro, designed to create a bridge between high school and college.

“All the students in the ESL program at Red Bank Regional High School are eligible to take two college classes at Brookdale Community College in their senior year,” explains Risa Cullinane, assistant principal and founder of the program. “Putting the students on the campus has had a trickle-down effect. They come back and tell other students about going to college.”

Participants take the six college credits in addition to their regular workload — and often a part-time job as well. If they complete the college classes and show good attendance at the high school, students have the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to Brookdale to pursue their associate’s degree.

“It’s definitely improved our attendance through graduation,” Cullinane says. “They used to say to me, ‘What reason is there for us to stay in school?’ Never in their wildest dreams did they ever think they would go to college.”

CPC Behavioral Healthcare — Helping Families in Crisis

The Monmouth County Foundation is also supporting CPC Behavioral Healthcare this year. The organization serves 6,000 children, teens, adults and families living with depression, mental illness, substance abuse or learning disabilities.

Because many CPC clients are Spanish speaking, the agency teamed up with Verizon to provide a language line service to interpret between those clients and healthcare staff.

When it’s a child who needs help, parents’ communication problems may be compounded. “Often children of immigrants end up having to translate to the clinicians for the parents and vice versa,” says CPC spokeswoman Kerry Herbert.

The language line enables parents to discuss their child’s problem directly with staff. The translation service “greatly assists the staff in having accurate two-way communications, increasing the effectiveness of the crisis intervention and the ongoing stabilization services.”

About 50 CPC clients benefited from the language line in the program’s first six months, Herbert says. The Monmouth County grant money is helping to underwrite the cost of this essential communication tool that is connecting families with healthcare they need.