Hispanic outreach kick-off successful

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On Sept. 18, 2010, Westfield presented the community’s first Hispanic Outreach Program, providing a veritable welcome wagon for the city’s Hispanic community. The event’s level of success prompted Event Planner Jo Ann Weiker and others to consider more for the future.

“Everyone was very pleased. Attendees enjoyed themselves, and walked away with a better understanding of what is available to them, who to contact, as well as received handouts from the exhibitors,” Weiker said.

According to Weiker, the next Hispanic Outreach Program may be held in May of 2011, and patrons can expect them once or twice times annually, although nothing has been finalized. The Programs are held at CrossRoads Church at 191st St. and Grassy Branch Road in Westfield, with breakfast kicking off the day at 8 a.m. In addition to breakfast, activities include a welcoming by Westfield’s mayor Andy Cook and a presentation by the Mexican Consul, Juan M. Solana Morales.

Interpreters were present at the first event, as were exhibitors from the Westfield-Washington Public Library, Sentry Insurance, Heart and Soul Clinic and Trinity Free Clinic, and are expected to participate in future Hispanic Outreach Programs.

The safety and awareness aspect of the first Hispanic Outreach Program, which included a demonstration by local fire fighters, was, according to Weiker, an important part of the event. “Children and adults alike took advantage of seeing the life-saving equipment up close. The police department gave away and installed two infant/children’s car seats,” she said.

Looking forward, Weiker hopes to expand on the success of the program and make it more conducive to the needs of Westfield’s Hispanic population. “A follow-up meeting will be held with all exhibitors of the initial Hispanic Outreach Program to determine the next steps.” Weiker said. “I have already been approached by an attendee about the possibility of a forum wherein there can be an open dialogue between Hispanic residents and the educational, government, church, and business sectors of our community.”

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