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More bilingual workers and volunteers needed at organizations in Colorado Springs

Growing need for more bilingual workers and volunteers in Colorado Springs.jpg
Posted at 11:34 PM, Sep 18, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — There is a growing need for more bilingual workers and volunteers in Colorado Springs.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2011, the Latino population was around 65,000 people in Colorado Springs. In 2021, it grew to around 87,000 people. That means more Spanish-speaking families are moving to Colorado Springs, increasing the demand for translators.

Alma Scott is the Family Services Coordinator at the Salvation Army Colorado Springs.

“I’ve been here for a while and I did not see the Hispanic community here when I first came,” said Scott.

Scott is also bilingual and has helped more Spanish-speaking families over the years. She also said about 50% of the people they serve at their food pantry is Hispanic.

“Our Hispanic community has grown here, and we want to make sure that they feel welcome, and that they can come in and ask those hard questions,” said Scott.

The Salvation Army currently has seven full-time staff members working at their food pantry, shelter, and in family services who translate for the Hispanic community.

“We're ready to hire even more right now, and being Hispanic or being Spanish speaking is most important,” said Scott.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports of the nearly 500,000 people who live in Colorado Springs, about 18% of the population is Hispanic or Latino. Hispanics are also the largest minority group in the city.

“Certainly, as we see more of those neighbors in our community and there, we want to make sure that they don't have any barrier to food,” said Shannon Coker, the Chief Operating Officer at Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado.

Coker said the food bank has also seen a need in bilingual workers and volunteers. Coker added, the food bank only have four bilingual employees, which has been a challenge at times because of language barriers.

“We have had to translate by using google to be able to meet the neighbor where they're at, said Coker. “(Our bilingual employees) are certainly incredible assets to our organization for when we are working directly with neighbors who come here to our facilities across southern Colorado.”

In the future, the food bank also hopes to hire more bilingual staff and have more bilingual volunteers.

“Just having more folks on our staff and in our volunteer base who can speak multiple languages would certainly be ideal for us,” said Coker.

Both organizations have also made changes in the past few years, like including information in Spanish on their website and on flyers and pamphlets.

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