Article originally published by and shared here courtesy of Argus Observer. View the original article here.
Ontario, OR – 27 December 2022 – Four Rivers Welcome Center was one of the entities to receive funds after being announced as part of the final selections for the Roundhouse Foundation’s Fall Open Call Proposal cycle.
Center Director Renee Cummings said that this is the third year that the nonprofit has received funds from the Roundhouse Foundation.
She said that the grant money goes to pay for citizenship preparation classes for immigrants as well as travel expenses associated with having to go to Portland to take their citizenship exams.
As a crucial part of the process, Cummings said that interpreters are needed to work with many of the immigrants who are undergoing preparation for citizenship and as of July, the state of Oregon mandated that health care providers be required to hire credentialed interpreters from a state list when engaging in communication with non-English speaking patients. This requirement does also include sign language.
There are two levels of credentialing in Oregon’s Health Care Interpreter Program — qualification and certification. Either of these levels of credentials must meet a series of requirements and provide all requested supporting documents.
Cummings said that in Ontario “not a lot of people are certified” to do health care interpretation. She went on to say how the Welcome Center does now have a person who is certified in Arabic and she said that this person is the “first in our area” to have these qualifications.
Cummings described how grants are “essential” for most nonprofits and expressed how this latest grant funding is more than helpful in assisting refugees on their paths to citizenship.
She described how back in 2018, there were refugee families in Ontario that were “stressed because of zero services” to help them get integrated into the community. Cummings said that the language barrier coupled with “a combination of small things make life difficult.” She gave the example of how something as simple as using a crosswalk to go to the grocery store can be a challenge for these people because the experience is sometimes much more different than what they’re used to. Some of these people have learned how to navigate “one way in large cities” and how the customs are “different in smaller communities” explained Cummings. She said that people in these situations are often overlooked and there is usually “no help for them.”
“The Welcome Center has been a place where they can get questions answered,” she stated.
Cummings also said that the citizenship classes being taught are “open to anyone, not just refugees” and that these classes are offered three times a year.