York City's new Latino services coordinator said he aims to bridge the cultural and communication gap between the city's English- and Spanish-speaking communities.
Natividad Rivera, who goes by Nate, started in the new position in May.
Rivera, 46, was born in Puerto Rico but moved to the United States when he was 2 years old.
When he was 13, Rivera's family moved to York, and he's lived here ever since.
The bilingual York High graduate has spent his career, mostly in the social services field, helping agencies reach the Hispanic population.
Now he's hoping to help City Hall connect with its growing community of Spanish-speaking constituents. Rivera estimated about a third of the city's population fits the demographic.
York's Hispanic population is diverse, hailing from countries all over Central and South America, he said.
An obstacle: Many Hispanics shy away from government services because of the language barrier, Rivera said.
"You find that people are withdrawn from politics and community," he said.
Rivera said he wants to help Spanish speakers express concerns and ask questions. For example, people might not know how to report a darkened street light or a gang problem in their neighborhood, he said.
Many people who move here from Latin America want to open businesses, enroll their children in good schools and buy homes. But many struggle with the language barrier, he said.
"Sometimes learning a second language, it's harder than what you think," Rivera said.
His plans: Rivera said he plans to form a committee of volunteers who will help him bridge the gaps. He wants to help people register to vote and obtain business permits.
The overall goal is to build relationships, he said.
"I think we need to educate and promote our differences, promote these qualities that make us unique," Rivera said.
Rivera said he also wants to educate native Yorkers about the diverse cultural backgrounds of Spanish speakers.
"They are people that don't shy away from hard work," he said.
Contact Rivera at (717) 849-2233 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Reach Erin James at email@example.com.