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Resource center for Latino, multicultural community in York City slated for September opening

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Lou Rivera is sworn in at the start of the first York City Council meeting of the year, Monday, January 6, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

A Spanish American Multicultural Resource Center is slated to open in York City in September, York City Councilman Lou Rivera said Wednesday.

The center, spearheaded by Rivera, will be located at 426 S. George St. He is registering it as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the help of a steering committee and attorney Mark Kogan of HGSK Law Firm.

“Oftentimes, the poor communities are very afraid to seek help,” Rivera said. “So now, we’ll have something right on George Street where they’ll able to come and feel welcome.”

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York City did formerly have the York Spanish-American Center on East Princess Street. But CASA, an immigrant advocacy organization, took over leadership following a merger in late 2017.

The new center, although smaller, will still provide the disenfranchised community throughout the county with vital resources, Rivera said.

At least initially, its primary focus will be on using partnerships with businesses and organizations to empower the Latino population, Rivera said.

That includes pairing individuals with programs pertaining to jobs, education and health care. The center will work to better integrate Latinos into the community, such as through the arts and food scenes.

Latinos in York County have expressed a desire to have such a center over the years, according to a 2017 study conducted by Vinny Cannizzaro, a public policy fellow at the Arthur J. Glatfelter Institute for Public Policy at York College.

The research showed 80% of survey respondents stated that they would like a community center for the Spanish-speaking community.

Less than 33% of survey respondents reported that the government understands their needs, according to the study.

Spanish-American Multicultural Resource Center in York City, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“Overall, I think it is very important to have centers where the people are comfortable, where the people feel their own cultures and languages represented,” said York City Mayor Michael Helfrich. “I see this as a big win for the city.”

The South George Street location was made possible by the Crispus Attucks Association, which currently owns the property but donated it free of charge. It will also cover rent and utilities, Executive Director Bobby Simpson said. 

Bob Bossert, of the W. Dale Brougher Foundation, also made a five-figure donation. Rivera declined to give the exact amount.

"I think that (Latinos) need their own unique building, where they have someone that understands their culture and their needs," Simpson said.

Rivera, a steering committee and attorney Mark Kogan of HGSK Law Firm are now in the process of developing a strategic business plan, establishing the center as a nonprofit and drafting a vision statement.

The anticipated opening date is just over two months away. Rivera said there should not be any problems, as donations have expedited the process. 

The grand opening would come in the midst of Spanish Heritage Month, which takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.