EASTON — The Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center has launched a new toll-free number for Talbot and Caroline county residents who do not speak English as their first language.
Callers will be greeted in Spanish, Haitian/Creole, or English, then transferred to someone who speaks their language. The goal is to connect non-English speakers with help and to answers to their questions more quickly. The line will be manned from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
“COVID-19 has changed how organizations do business,” ChesMRC Director Matthew Peters said. “For many of our clients, calling an agency is now their only option. A typical phone system with its many questions and prompts is often a frustrating and impossible thing to navigate. We have streamlined our system so callers get someone to talk to in their own languages.”
When a member of the immigrant community needs help, they often reach out to Peters and his staff at ChesMRC. Questions range from how to access local services to requests for information about the COVID-19 virus. They may need an appointment with a doctor, help getting a driver’s license, or assistance with social services.
“We will have that information at hand, and we can get it to them immediately,” Peters said. “If they need help setting up an appointment, we can three-way dial an agency and set it up while they are on the phone.”
The number is 1-877-772-9835. In Spanish, it also can be read as 1-877-77-AYUDA. The word ayuda means help in Spanish.
“This is a confusing, conflicting, tough time we’re in,” Peters said. “We are here to make sure that those who do not speak English are able to get the information they need. They have the same fears, questions, and confusion as the English-speaking population has about COVID-19.
“That’s the spirit of this project,” he added. “We just want to help people get direct answers and direct appointments in a culturally diverse way. Everything improves when we can communicate well.”