Founded in 1998, the Organization of Hispanic/Latin Americans of Anne Arundel County, Inc., generally referred to as OHLA, is a small organization of one full-time office manager and six volunteers. OHLA is dedicated to promoting the well-being of the Hispanic population of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. The primary focus is to assist Hispanic residents in resolving issues with government agencies, businesses, landlords, and healthcare providers as well as any legal issues that arise. These are challenges that Hispanics must often deal with but which pose difficulties due to language, educational and cultural hurdles. OHLA’s assistance helps them overcome these barriers across a wide range of issues. Additionally, Hispanic immigrants are currently under great stress due to the aggressive enforcement efforts of the federal government.
OHLA is very grateful for the grant of $5,000 from Anne Arundel Women Giving Together (AAWGT) for FY 2020, helping to cover the salary of the OHLA office manager/case worker. The office manager is essential for OHLA as she provides the continuity for the program while each of the six volunteers helps in the office one day a week. The office manager is there every day OHLA is open and carries a heavy case load. She is essential to OHLA’s ability to serve the many clients who come in for assistance.
OHLA’s office hours are 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday through Thursday. During this part time schedule OHLA assists between1,500 to 2,000 clients a year. OHLA staff help with any problem brought in the door from filling out a change of address form to helping prepare a citizenship application. Most clients come in for assistance in preparing applications to the Department of Social Services, the Department of Health and the Child Support Enforcement Office. OHLA also conducts a legal assistance clinic every Thursday that helps with family legal issues, immigration matters, taxes and other issues that clients have. AAWGT’s generous grant to OHLA is instrumental in enabling OHLA to continue to serve its many clients and accomplish its mission.
Education Meeting: The First 1,000 Days of a Child’s Life
February 5, 2020
Keynote Speaker, Dr. Brenda Jones Harden, set the stage for a powerful conversation about the critical needs of an infant, and the long-lasting effects of neglect. Her dynamic presentation before 141 attendees, described research demonstrating that brain growth starts prenatally, with peak development from two months to three years of age. She shared brain PET scans, comparing scans from a baby with a dependable caretaker, who regularly speaks, hugs, and interacts with the baby against the scans for a baby who did not have those benefits. The difference is striking. Neglected children suffer from long-lasting decreases in cognitive, language and social skills for the rest of their lives. Evidence-based interventions for parent and child through private home visits, Early Head Start, Judy Centers, can make a difference—and the earlier the intervention, the more successful. Shockingly, the U.S. lags behind other countries in quality earlychildcare. Tatiana Klein provided statistics from AA County. Tamira Dunn presented the wide range of services provided by the Judy Center program.
Find Dr. Harden’s presentation and more on this important subject here.
Open since 1987 as a safe haven for women, children, and families who are homeless or abused, Sarah’s House is located on the edge of US Army Fort George G. Meade and consists of eight refurbished Army barracks housing office space, emergency shelter, dining facilities, a day care center, and four apartments where clients can live while obtaining support services.
Executive Director Kathryn Philliben briefed the group on arrival and introduced her staff, all of whom have been at Sarah’s House for at least 12 years. Kathryn explained that incoming clients are initially placed in emergency shelter so that case managers, program assistants, and training staff can identify the type of assistance needed. Each individual or family is given their own room with a door that locks, and as many clients have not experienced such security and safety in the past they are thrilled to have some privacy. Residents’ meals are donated by churches, volunteer organizations and businesses. Stays in the emergency shelter are limited to 90 days after which clients move either to one of the apartments at Sarah’s House or somewhere in the county, where they are given financial help with rent for up to a year.
Kelly Anderson, Manager of Client Services, explained how the staff is organized to help clients with multiple issues. Case managers specialize in one area, making them more efficient in obtaining assistance, whether with legal matters, mental and behavioral health issues or employment and financial needs. Staff seeks to listen and help solve problems while also instilling self-reliance. Regarding employment, Eileen Meagher, Manager of Housing and Employment Services, explained her staff seeks first to identify client interests, as the more interested in the job being pursued, the more likely the client is to stay with the program. AAWGT grant funds were used in the past year to fund many of these training and certification classes.
Sarah’s House is always open to volunteer assistance and can use donations of twin bedding, both new and gently used. Pillows must be new. If you are interested in helping, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.