RACINE COUNTY — The Racine Spanish Center, 2501 Douglas Ave., is helping to break down barriers and close the language gap in the city of Racine as a newly founded non-profit organization.
Leading this new non-profit organization are Joshua Martinez and Samantha Altamirano. The center is sponsored by the Blink Employment Agency, a company in the same location, founded and operated by Martínez and Altamirano.
The Racine Spanish Center provides services such as translation services from Spanish to English and English to Spanish, as well as assistance with taxes, insurance, providing classes to the community, reading and orientation of documents, access to community resources, assistance legit and more. .
In addition, the nonprofit organization is connected to a business that can help community members find employment.
“The employment agency is another way that we can give back to the community, help them find good careers, put them in places with great clients that we vetted,” says Martinez, Director of Operations. “All the income from the employment agency funds the Spanish center so we can keep the doors open.”
“Over time we want to be a one-stop shop,” says Altamirano, Director of Community Engagement.
Recognizing the need
Being connected to the community is what led these organizers to establish a foundation that serves residents.
Martinez and Altamirano understand the challenges posed to members of the community who do not speak English as their first language. As the first generation in Racine, they recognize the difficulties their parents and immigrants have faced.
However, it wasn’t until they moved to Texas that the couple realized the opportunities their hometown was missing.
Spanish speakers in Texas had widely available resources. Whenever Martinez and Altamirano visited Racine, they knew that Spanish-speakers in Racine and others would benefit from a place where they could get help.
Returning home in March, Martínez and Altamirano were meant to create a space for community members that could help them improve, grow and become stronger.
“It motivated and inspired me to bring all my knowledge and experience back home, where I know for sure that services and resources are sorely needed,” says Altamirano, who has worked in the nonprofit sector dealing with Spanish-speakers in Texas.
In May 2023, the community-oriented Racine Spanish Center opened. So far, they report serving more than 300 community members through their nonprofit organization.
“We love it when people walk in and their eyes light up because you know they feel welcome. They know that we are here to help anyone”, shares Altamirano.
Growing the Racine Spanish Center
Our center was built with the idea of creating a space where members of the community can receive services that can improve the quality of life for individuals and their families in (the) Racine community.
Mission statement of the Spanish Racine Center
The Spanish Center is growing and this fall they will launch an English course for beginners. After this, they hope to offer a Spanish class for beginners to continue establishing themselves as a bilingual resource.
“We have received a lot of love, a lot of support, and we couldn’t ask for anything more,” says Altamirano.
As Martínez and Altamirano continue to work to help the community, they seek the help of volunteers to help further their mission by helping with programs and events.
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