Nonprofit group that helps area Hispanics may close

The local nonprofit group that has helped new Hispanic immigrants in Lincoln County for more than six years is now in jeopardy of closing its doors due to a lack of funds.
Coordinators with Comunidad Hispana in Merrill said their funding is nearly depleted and they are working to secure grant funding and additional volunteers to continue the group’s mission to help integrate Hispanic immigrants to the area.
Since its inception, the group has served as a link from the immigrant population to area public schools, law enforcement and health centers where Spanish-language translators are limited, Comunidad Hispana board member Bethany O’Day said.
An average of 120 people visit the center each month for help with translation services, job referrals or securing local housing.
Although the majority of immigrants who have relocated to Lincoln County for work in dairy farms are originally from Mexico, some are natives of Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. A group of natives of Mexico also come to Lincoln County in the fall to work in the Christmas wreath industry.
Comunidad Hispana began providing services in January 2004, with the support of the Holy Cross Sisters in Merrill. But the funding available now is not enough to pay for the estimated $25,000 needed yearly to pay for rent in the Community Care Center, salary, phone and Internet. The group is seeking volunteers with grant-writing experience to help with fundraising efforts.

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