First-of-its-kind family resource center opens at Walhalla Library • Upstate Today

By Lauren Pierce

The newspaper

WALHALLA — Oconee County’s first Community Family Resource Center, intended to provide resources available to Hispanic families, opened Tuesday at the Walhalla Library.

Oconee County Public Library Director Blair Hinson, who cut the ribbon for the opening, said several accessible resources will be available to help families support their children’s learning and development.

Pictured, L-R, Oconee County Public Library Director Blair Hinson, Lorilei Swanson, Nivia Miranda, Sarai Melendez, Leila Lopez holding Amir Cueves, Natalya Cueves, Joanna Lopez with her hand on Zaid Amdore and Dr. John Bickford.
Caleb Gilbert | The newspaper

“They will have access to computers, school readiness materials, school information such as report cards, free transportation options, information on COVID-19 and other materials,” Hinson said.

Nivia Miranda, a Spanish-speaking member of the county library board, secured the deal with Hinson to house the resource center in the main branch of the library system.

Reaching the large Hispanic community in the area is one of the library’s goals, so many of the resource center materials will be printed in Spanish, as well as English.

“There are no libraries in rural communities in Hispanic countries, so most of our Hispanics who live in that area don’t know about free libraries and resources,” said Miranda, who is also the family liaison at James M. Brown Elementary School. “So we tried to get them here more and make it more welcoming, and Blair and I talked and this opportunity came up where they had the funds, and we were like, ‘Let’s go. “”

Among the free educational materials families can get is a series of six booklets, “Ready, Set – Kindergarten!”

The colorful, family-friendly guides focus on six areas of childhood growth and experience and are drawn from the Ministry of Education’s Early Learning Standards and College and Career Readiness Standards. South Carolina Education.

Information on health and social care resources will be included.

“Right now we’re trying to hire a social worker – I guess we call him a community resource associate – but we’ll have someone who will actually do like health care referrals and what stuff right here in the library,” Hinson said.

The resource center was also supported by Walhalla Councilwoman Sarai Melendez and Carolina Family Engagement Center Regional Liaison Lorilei Swanson, who both attended the ribbon cutting.

“This is designed to reduce the impact of the pandemic and help families,” Swanson said. “This is for families who may not have great tech skills, who may not have a device, who may not have reliable internet, families who may be grandparents raising grandchildren, families whose parents do not speak English. … Learning takes place at school, at home and in community spaces. We just want to make sure everything is covered. »

Technology 101

Miranda will host the Resource Center’s first Teaching Technology Workshop from 10 a.m. to noon on May 7.

“We will teach basic things like turning on the computer, setting up an email, replying to an email, creating an email, accessing different websites – because like everything in school, we do that now on a website,” Miranda said. “They can access the newsletters. They will be able to access this stuff. So very simple but necessary.

Statewide effort

The Walhalla location is one of 15 similar sites opening across the state in the coming months.

The state Department of Education has allocated $180,000 of its federal pandemic relief funds to cover the cost of establishing the centers — including at Walhalla, according to Swanson.

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