spanish speaking volunteer opportunities in DC?

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Topic: spanish speaking volunteer opportunities in DC?

Life and Society January 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

spanish speaking volunteer opportunities in DC?

I’m a 23 year old with a new year’s resolution to more fully immerse myself in my community of Columbia Heights. I speak Spanish and would love to use it as a volunteer. I’d be interested working with Spanish-speaking adults in a professional capacity—perhaps working with them to apply for visas, work permits, housing applications, etc. However, I’m pretty new to the city and would love to get some good recommendations on who to approach.
Does anyone know of a good volunteer opportunity that fits the bill? I’m sure there’s one out there! 
 

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ksk

If you’re looking to jump on something ASAP, the DC EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) Campaign may still be seeking volunteers for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program (runs Feb-April).  Quick background in case you’re not familiar–VITA is an IRS-sponsored program that offers free tax preparation in community-based settings to low- and moderate-income filers (individuals with incomes below $35K; families with incomes below $51K).  There are two sites in Columbia Heights: Jubilee Jobs (which may already be full; that’s usually a popular one for volunteers); and CentroNIA, which I think uses exclusively Spanish-speaking volunteers.  You do NOT nned to be a CPA, have an accounting/finance backgroud, or even be much of a numbers whiz. If you don’t have experience in accounting/finance, they do ask that you have some experience with doing taxes (ie, doing your own taxes a couple of times).  I am SO not a numbers person, but I’ve done my own taxes for 10 years; last year was my first year as a VITA volunteer preparer and I was fine. The nature of the VITA program is such that none of the returns we prepare are all that complex, and the EITC Campaign provides several free trainings that you take before doing the IRS certification test (a 20-question open book test). And there are ample volunteer manuals on hand for reference.  The preparers also use TaxWise software, and there are experienced “quality reviewers” on site who double-check every tax return for accuracy.  The trainings are underway now; check out http://dceitc.org/index.html for more details. 

thanks a million! 
I have (shamelessly) had my parents’ accountant do my taxes last year, so I’m afraid I wouldn’t be much help without going through the training course. It’s probably a good idea for me to familiarize myself with taxes, though!
Keep ‘em coming! I have a few other friends interested in the same thing. 

The Family Place offers adult Spanish literacy classes (for native Spanish speakers who did not have the opportunity to learn to read and/or write) three or four nights a week. The classes are from 7-9pm at their location on 16th Street NW in Columbia Heights. They ask for a commitment of one evening per week for one year. Learn more here: http://www.thefamilyplacedc.org/?page_id=97

All of the volunteers go through the training, so definitely don’t feel like you need to know anything about taxes in order to do it.  The EITC coalition sent out an email a couple weeks ago saying they very much need Spanish speaking volunteers, so they could definitely find a use for you.  Even if you don’t want to be a tax preparer, I’m sure they’d love to have you as a floating translator to work with other volunteers.

I work at The Family Place (mentioned above — thanks for the mention, whoever that was!) and just wanted to share a volunteer opportunity we’re currently recruiting for. If you’re looking to speak Spanish this may not be exactly what you want, but it’s definitely a chance to work with the latino immigrant community here in Columbia Heights. I am the adult ESL instructor and am working on getting a conversation partners program going for our ESL students. It would be a weekly or bi-weekly commitment through the semester, meeting with one of our students one-on-one or in small groups to talk informally in English, with guidance and discussion topics provided by our staff. We’re looking for people who have lunchtime availability from 11:30am – 12:30 pm on some weekday between Monday-Thursday. For more information see our idealist posting: http://www.idealist.org/view/volop/3JTcgBts7gBD/

Our students have said they feel much more comfortable with someone who also speaks Spanish, so it’s certainly an asset for this program! If you’re interested, just follow the instructions on the idealist posting. Good luck finding something!

Oops, looks like the link isn’t copying for some reason — you can find it on idealist.org by searching for “ESL Conversation partner” or just email me at kwittkowski@thefamilyplacedc.org or call us at 202-265-0149 and ask for Kirsten for more information

The Dinner Program at Sacred Heart would probably be happy to have you help out.
More here http://www.dinnerprogram.org/

http://www.carecendc.org/ is in CH and offers citizenship classes in Spanish. I know they are often looking for volunteers for instructors.  

Outside of the great opportunities mentioned above, I’d add Neighbor’s Consejo http://www.neighborsconsejo.org/volunteer.html and Ayuda http://www.ayudainc.org/template/page.cfm?id=165

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