Hispanic Outreach Works Creatively with Mexican Immigrant Families, Oakland County
Primary Contact Person: Jamie Tamez
Phone: 248-338-4250, ext. 3701
295 W. Huron
Pontiac MI 48341
The average level of education among Mexican immigrants is around a third grade completion. While children often learn to speak English fluently after only a year, for adults the process can take over 10 years. This means that the situation for Hispanic school children in the United States, when it comes to something like homework, is quite challenging. A reliable english-speaking tutor can assist a young person. And this is only the beginning. An honest adult can be a mentor. An ESL teacher can assist those who need it. People can be neighbors to one another.
With a base of operations in a large, sunny-yellow house on Huron Street in Pontiac, Hispanic Outreach Services extends itself to its Hispanic neighbors in countless ways. Almost anyone with a desire to give is welcome, be it in an established role of educator or a new role, such as guitar or dance instructor.
The staff is warm and welcoming and committed to working with people. I was impressed with the flexibility that the leadership demonstrated in its strategies for effectiveness. For example, they found that people commit more seriously to classes they pay a fee for than for classes that are offered for free. So for many classes they now charge a small fee and thus enjoy greater participation. The commitment is to the people and their needs.
Hispanic Outreach Services is part of Catholic Social Services of Oakland County.
Target Groups of Ministry: Hispanic children and adults in Pontiac and North Oakland County
Current Needs: Mentors for Hispanic children (similar to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program) — commitment of at least six months, six hours per month. There is a special need for male mentors. Do not have to speak Spanish. Assistance with eight-week summer camp for kids and free lunch program, both held at St. Michael's Parish of Pontiac. Tutors at two charter schools and one city school in Pontiac (two days a week; could use more adult tutors). ESL teachers, Tuesday and Thursday mornings or Monday and Wednesday evenings. Computer class teachers (the outreach has acquired seven new computers). Adult education teachers (accredited through Mexican government; must be fluent in Spanish). Volunteers in any number of other capacities such as teaching parenting classes, running child care, helping with the clothes closet and food distribution or helping with a holiday program (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Back to School).
Most Helpful Attitude from Volunteer: Must have a servant's heart. Otherwise you will get burnt out. A servant's heart is what motivates someone.
Future: Continued growth in programs offered to children (e.g., summer camp has nearly tripled in size over the last three years). Extension of adult education through the high school level. Partnerships with Gleaners Food Bank, health professionals, lawyers and others who help make services more effective.