Mary’s Place of the Coastal Empire, formerly known as the Rape Crisis Center, will host its first Spanish-language resource fair at Port Wentworth’s Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Saturday, Oct. 14th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Founded in 1974, Mary’s Place provides a wide variety of social services and support to victims of sexual assault and abuse in seven Georgia counties, including Bryan County.
“We want people to know that if they are Spanish speakers, they will always have an advocate available to help them if they need our services,” says Perla Leiva, bilingual interpreter and supervisor at Mary’s Place.
Leiva says that outreach programs like these are important to spread awareness of social programs amongst Hispanic residents who may otherwise not know about them.
“Our goal is to help make the Hispanic community aware of all the services available to them,” Leiva said.
The event is organized by Mary’s Place’s own Hispanic Networking Group, and will also feature a wide variety of local organizations from southeast Georgia that aim to reach out to the Hispanic community.
“With a resource fair, we also want to host multiple organizations that focus on issues such as housing, food, and education as well,” Leiva said.
“That way, it’s not just one specific health fair, it can be wide-ranging.”
Carmen Bien Aime, a victim’s advocate with Savannah’s SAFE Shelter and a member of Mary’s Place Hispanic Networking Group, agrees.
“Every call is a crisis call,” Bien Aime says.
“Sometimes they may not need our services [at Mary’s Place], and they just need us to connect them with other organizations for different resources. And sometimes if they [outside organizations] don’t have Spanish-speaking staff, we can assist them as well and sometimes translate for them so that they can get the resources and help that they need,” Bien Aime says.
Although Mary’s Place primarily deals with matters of sexual assault, Bien Aime agrees that this Hispanic outreach event aims to establish connections across multiple social issues and needs.
“One of the great things about this event is that we can create a name for the organization. So if somebody comes, for example, seeking assistance with prescription medication, we have a Spanish-speaking person on hand that can help that person fill out the forms so that they can get their medication at little to no cost,” Bien Aime says.
“We can create a point of contact [at Mary’s Place] where people already know who to contact or where to go and help make the process a little bit easier.”
For those in need, Mary’s Place of the Coastal Empire can be reached 24 hours of day, seven days a week at their crisis response hotline (912) 233-7273. For all other inquiries, their office number is (912) 233-3000.