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Community effort connects new immigrants with resource network

Diego Torres, right, speaks with two men arriving to the Latin American Coalition's second resource fair.
Kayla Young
WFAE/La Noticia
Diego Torres, right, speaks with two men arriving to the Latin American Coalition's second resource fair.

More than 150 recently arrived immigrants, including 50 children, were connected with essential resources at the Latin American Coalition on Central Avenue this past weekend.

The second edition of the resource fair, first held in November, comes in response to serious needs in the community, explained immigrant integration specialist Diego Torres. Last year, the coalition began receiving dozens of migrants each week from the U.S-Mexico border, many facing homelessness and unsure of where else to go.

Since the coalition's first event, Torres said the need has only increased. Saturday's fair received 64% more people than the first edition, which served 93 immigrants. That's because the coalition has seen more people reaching out to their office for support.

“I’ve served the community and low-resource families, but I’ve never had anyone tell me before that they don’t have anything,” Torres said. “That’s led us to take action to help them with the services we can provide.”

The resource fair brought together more than 20 community partners, including the Mecklenburg County Health Department, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and local police, so that immigrants could access and learn about a variety of services in one place.

For this event, the coalition reached out to people who have been in the country for less than six months.

“The idea is to serve [the community] with resources, like donated clothing,” Torres said. “It’s a place where families can have access to everything, flu vaccines, COVID boosters, health checks.”

The day was a volunteer-led effort. More than 50 community members helped guide immigrants through two floors of resource stations, ending in a booth distributing groceries, gift cards and over-the-counter medication.

The Latin American Coalition also has an Immigrant Welcome Center, open Mondays through Thursdays, that provides services like crisis intervention and help to apply for identification cards.


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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.