Cultural integration initiative continues as grant runs out in Summit County
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY – A community initiative promoting immigrant integration here distributed the remainder of its $300,000 in grant money this week after four years of efforts through local schools, media and law enforcement.
“It has been a great experience,” said Erika Turner, translator and family liaison with Summit School District.
Turner was part of the Global Summit Intercultural Council’s final meeting Tuesday. It was decided then that the roughly $2,000 left in grant funds from Colorado Trust would be split between the High Country Soccer Association and the Lake Dillon Theatre Company.
The soccer money is to support participation in a young Latino leadership program while the theater is to put on a bilingual play.
Global Summit has used other finances to coordinate as many as 32 agencies in bridging cultural divides. A Spanish-speaking radio station was started, cultural competency trainings took place and events were held to make newcomers more comfortable with law enforcement.
Breckenridge police chief and Global Summit councilmember Rick Holman said the initiative was a “huge success.”
He said the law enforcement advisory committee continues to meet regularly with the local Latino population to foster better relations.
“We’ve built some great relationships,” he said. “And that’s a lot of what it’s about – the opportunity to break down some of that distrust or fear that may be out there.”
Pamphlets were distributed to Spanish speakers offering answers to some of the more frequently asked questions – regarding topics such as traffic, children and domestic abuse – from the Latino community, Holman said.
He said his department’s policy is to not look into someone’s immigration status unless that person is arrested for criminal activity.
“Some people get a speeding ticket and won’t go to court because they’re afraid they’ll be arrested and deported,” he said. “People don’t care about your (citizenship) status on traffic tickets.”
But when a person ditches court and an arrest warrant is issued, the situation could lead to deportation.
Turner said that the grant money paid for a coordinator and that translation and interpretation seminars were also held.
“Even if we were not born here, we can make it …” said Turner, who moved to the United States from Mexico.
She said efforts toward integration won’t stop with the grant money ending.
“I just think it’s taking a new turn,” she said.
Holman on Tuesday announced an event April 5 for Spanish-speaking – or any other – families with questions regarding their kids being involved with gangs, drugs or alcohol.
The event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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