Latino support center to close in Chatham
Posted September 4, 2015
Siler City, N.C. — After two decades of serving a growing Latino population in Chatham County and surrounding areas, a nonprofit in Siler City will close its doors in two weeks.
Officials with Hispanic Liaison of Chatham County cited "an increasingly difficult economic and funding climate for nonprofits" in announcing their decision to close on Sept 15.
"While we come to this decision with very heavy hearts, we must face the facts," board Chairwoman Sandra Forrester said in a statement. "We truly feel it is the most fiscally responsible choice, while taking into consideration the best interests of the community we serve."
Hundreds of Latino families have come to the Hispanic Liaison for help over the years, often in dire need.
A woman named Maria said Friday that the staff of the center help her understand documents from the government and hospitals, and she doesn't know where else she can go for help.
Hispanic Liaison also provided help with basic needs, job assistance, youth leadership development, aid to crime victims and community education.
"They provide food. They provide hope. They provide guidance. They provide legal consultation," Siler City Police Chief Gary Tyson said. "They do so much here."
Tyson said the center helped the town adapt as its Latino population spiked in recent years.
"The Hispanic Liaison office really helped Siler City get through those dark days," he said, adding that the closing "breaks my heart."
Town Manager Bryan Thompson said he wasn't aware of Hispanic Liaison's financial straits, and he wants to hear more from center officials about their plans and determine what services will be needed in the future.
It's unclear whether any other groups will pick up the slack and offer services to Latino families in the area, but Rachel Cone, executive director of Hispanic Liaison, said in a statement that officials "have faith in the resiliance and resourcefulness of this community."
Thompson said he is confident that Siler City will find a way to meet the needs of the Latino community.