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Last October she formed the Hispanic Social Services Outreach Program at Prince of Peace Church in Hoover.
Albert Manzella, executive director of Catholic Social Services for the Diocese of Birmingham, urged Sister Gabriela to expand the succesful program to other parishes in the diocese.
When working to expand into Hale County, Shepherd was able to show Spanish-language resources to local officials, demonstrating Turning Point’s ability to reach the Hispanic community in Alabama’s Black Belt, a low-income region of the state known for its dark soil.
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Sister Gabriela surveyed the community needs at the Hispanic Masses at Prince of Peace and visited some of the area’s mobile home communities.
She divided the survey results into four categories: Immigration, Family, Language, and Household Administration and Health.
Community partners say they hope to see the lives of Alabama’s Hispanic residents improve as the partnership with UA students continues.
Shepherd says she noticed more interest and participation from the Hispanic community after the introduction of translated documents in schools and at a Latino health fair. Granja has opened up a door not just in the nine counties we serve, but also throughout the state of Alabama,” Shepherd says.
During the next two years, Granja’s students will translate Schoolyard Roots’ entire curriculum into Spanish.
Schoolyard Roots operates school gardens and teaches more than 3,300 children about healthy eating and community gardening each year through weekly lessons.
Kazyak plans to use Spanish to serve a diverse group of patients as a doctor.
Williams wants to improve translation technology to include colloquialisms, like those she learned in the class.
“What you’re doing in class is really applicable to life right now.” Angela Williams, a sophomore from Sumter, S.
C., majoring in management information systems, translated documents including permission slips, instructions and student worksheets for Schoolyard Roots.
“We’re able to have that informa50tion there all the time, instead of clients having to drive up to Tuscaloosa like before,” Shepherd says.