by Joe Schwartz
Durham's El Centro Hispano plans to open its Orange County branch on April 1 in Carrboro Plaza, though they are yet to secure a lease, leaders said in both Spanish and English at the Seymour Center on Tuesday.
The group hopes to bring financial stability, consistent leadership and a successful service and funding model to Carrboro after El Centro Latino closed in November, leaving a hole in translation, job finding, after school and legal services for Spanish speakers.
"There are no guarantees. We are out on a limb," El Centro Hispano Board Chairwoman Susan Denman said. "It’s because we support what Carrboro and Chapel Hill have been doing, and we have faith in the foundation the board has laid."
More than 100 community members, some former volunteers or members of churches that supported El Centro Latino, attended the meeting during which El Centro Hispano outlined its plans for Orange County and pinned for support.
The group, which has been an independent nonprofit since 1997, will remained headquartered in Durham, but will hire at least five people to work in Carrboro. There they will seek to offer a resources office, legal and taxes clinic, tutoring, ESL classes and an HIV prevention program.
They're targeting April to coincide with the arrival of Latino Community Credit Union at the plaza along N.C. 54. The two groups have long worked side-by-side in Durham. They are negotiating to secure the 2,200-square-foot space next to the bank.
The event was held jointly with the board of El Centro Latino, which plans to pass on its membership and volunteer lists and ease the transition. Denman was quick to stress that although El Centro Hispano is launching the new branch with reserve funding, they will need money from local governments.
"Without local support, without local funding, we cannot indefinitely continue to pull funds out of a pot," she said. "There is no pot."