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Collin's Foundation Partnership Helps Broaden Our Impact

Reaching new communities with the Connecting Communities Program

A Growing Need

In Oregon, immigrant and refugee communities are growing rapidly in both size and diversity, making it increasingly vital that organizations guide these communities into services that identify their strengths, needs, and barriers by providing culturally appropriate assistance and solutions in their native languages. We need to inform and educate communities that speak English as a second language, dispel myths, and elevate the voices and perspectives of Oregon’s diverse communities in order to promote equity and inclusion across the state.

An Impactful Solution

Since 2003, Easterseals Oregon’s Connecting Communities Program has assisted monolingual Spanish-speaking individuals with disabilities, and other minorities with disabilities that speak English as a second language. This program provides career-focused skills courses, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, computer classes, and employment assistance in order to build employment equity and access to resources for communities that have been disconnected by their disabilities and language barriers.

Throughout the program’s lifespan, we’ve gradually expanded to include additional language assistance, broadening our reach and strengthening our community impact. Thanks to an incredibly impactful grant from our partners at The Collin’s Foundation, this year, we were excited to add Xingling Guan to our Connecting Communities team in Portland, as a Workforce Employment Liaison. This is especially significant because Xingling’s involvement has expanded our reach to include services for communities that speak Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taishanese!

Testimony From Xingling

“I started my position in February 2021, because I was inspired by the work that Easterseals Oregon has been doing for the Spanish-speaking community. I feel very grateful that I get to work with such a caring and supportive team, creating endless possibilities for people with disabilities to thrive. The participants and community members that I work with speak Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taishanese.

I help them with their resumes and cover letters, I run workshops for them to practice their interview skills and understanding of American work culture, I take them to explore different career options, and I check in with them regularly, connecting them with resources they need for jobs, living, education, and more.

In addition to helping my clients, I reach out to businesses, schools, and community organizations to build relationships with Easterseals Oregon and provide information about our program. I always try various ways to educate more people in the Chinese-speaking community about the services we offer and the rights and resources they have in the workplace.”

Partnership Expands Our Community Impact

Thanks to this expansion of our team and our services, the Connecting Communities Program can now provide services spoken in the native languages of participants with disabilities who primarily speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Taishanese, Spanish, or English. Additionally, some participants can qualify for our assistance, with translation services through Vocational Rehabilitation, in the following languages: Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Dari, Farsi, Khmer, Persian, Russian, Somali, and Vietnamese.

We’re looking optimistically to the future, as our programs continue to broaden and deepen their community impact as a result of the involvement of organizations like The Collin’s Foundation!

To learn more about The Collin’s Foundation, click here.

To learn more about our Connecting Communities Program, visit the program page here, or view our Stories of Hope page here, to follow the journeys of our participants.

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