Coverage Areas:  National |  South Carolina |  Aiken |  Beaufort |  Charleston |  Columbia |  Greenville |  Myrtle Beach |  Rock Hill
Menu

Hispanic initiative grant helps grass-roots efforts

CHARLESTON — This fall, the Sisters of Charity Foundation awarded the Diocese of Charleston a three-year Hispanic initiative grant for $181,000. The use of the money stipulated three areas of focus: immigration services, leadership development, and resource coordination and development.

The offices of Social Ministry, Ethnic Ministries, and Planning and Synod Implementation coordinated the allocation of the money to address the needs of the Hispanic community.

The Office of Ethnic Ministry created a diocesan Hispanic newsletter that was provided to all parishes, and identified Hispanic leaders and other agencies across the state that have contact with Spanish-speaking people. According to Kathleen Merritt, three newsletters have reached more than 3,000 Hispanics in South Carolina and a Hispanic directory is being produced.

The grant also funded seminars about immigration issues and resource held around South Carolina.

Dorothy Grillo, director of Social Ministry, said that 20 people have been trained to assist immigrants through the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and Catholic Charities’ immigration services.

“We have also expanded the availability of immigration services with offices in Columbia and Mount Pleasant, with plans to open one in Greenville,” she said.

The money helped provide scholarship assistance for Hispanic youth and adult leadership development, and Mexican consulate training in Washington, D.C., that provided training to people working with Hispanics.

“Working with the University of South Carolina, we’ve provided educational sessions to public officials, business leaders and educators on issues related to migration and immigration,” Grillo said.

English as a Second Language classes were also an important part of the grant, but it was soon discovered that an adult literacy program was needed for people who wanted to complete their high school education. The program is equivalent to the education they would have received in Mexico.

“One of the biggest things we learned when we started out is that we were focusing on ESL classes and found people who really needed basic literacy training first,” Grillo said. “The Mexican consulate provides all the materials and curricula. We had over 50 students attend those classes.”

All of these programs were held at various churches and venues around the state, including the annual diocesan Hispanic celebrations and multicultural exchanges. An after-school homework tutoring and mentoring program was created to work with parents and students at risk of failing in school.

“We are also working to provide specific help for students and translating PTA meetings for non-English speaking parents,” she said.

At the beginning of the grant, Grillo said that the immigration component was clearly spelled out.

“The broader category of empowerment evolved as we became more aware after talking to the Hispanic communities about their needs,” she said. “That’s where there’s been a lot of creativity in meeting those needs and a lot of relationships stemming from that.”

Another important focus for the grant is a domestic violence prevention program, “Helping Families Heal.” Training has already been completed for Hispanic leaders in Greenville, Charleston and Anderson.

“These leaders are using the program with women, men and teens,” Grillo said. “It is an educational program that encourages healthy relationships. We’ve distributed 15 program packets across the state.”

The most recent census stated that there has been a 212 percent increase in Spanish-speaking immigrants between 1990 and 2000.

“Most experts agree that that is a significant underestimate given the large amount of undocumented people in the state,” Grillo said. “Estimates put the Spanish-speaking population at about 150,000. The total population in South Carolina is 4,012,012.”

The new collaborative relationships that have been formed between diocesan departments, a variety of Hispanic leaders across the state, the University of South Carolina and the Mexican consulate have built relationships that will allow the leverage of additional resources to address the population.

“This grant is an excellent example of enhanced collaboration,” Grillo said.




  • Diocesan Events Calendar
    View All Events
    Dec 174:00 pm Volunteer Christmas Party - Diocesan Center - Charleston
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Dec 18 Exams for periods 3 and 4
    From the Calendar of Bishop England Charleston
    Christmas Sock Day
    From the Calendar of St. John School North Charleston
    Christmas Holidays - School Closed
    From the Calendar of St. Joseph School Anderson
    No school - holiday
    From the Calendar of St. Mary Help of Christians Aiken
    11 am Dismissal
    From the Calendar of St. Anne and St. Jude Catholic School
    Simbang Gabi for Filipino Catholics at St. Ann Church
    From the Calendar of Filipino Ministry
    12:00 pm Bishop to say Mass at the Cathedral - Charleston
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    2:00 pm Gr. K3-3rd Christmas Program
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    Dec 19 Exam for period 5
    From the Calendar of Bishop England Charleston
    Christmas Breaks BeginsNoon Dismissal
    From the Calendar of St. Peter School Beaufort
    Crazy Christmas Sweater Day
    From the Calendar of St. John School North Charleston
    End of 2nd Quarter
    From the Calendar of St. Francis Catholic School
    End of 2nd Quarter
    From the Calendar of St. Anne and St. Jude Catholic School
    Christmas Break
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony School Florence
    Christmas Program
    From the Calendar of St. Andrew School Myrtle Beach
    10:00 am day-Christmas party
    From the Calendar of Holy Trinity North Myrtle Beach
    11:30 am Early Dismissal
    From the Calendar of St. Michael School Murrells Inlet
    6:00 pm Christmas Program
    From the Calendar of St. Martin de Porres School Columbia
    7:00 pm Gr. 4-8th Christmas Program
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville