The Hispanic Outreach Project is designed to assist Hispanics with the needs and problems which are most pressing for the Hispanic population in Long Beach and surrounding communities in Los Angeles County. Hispanics are one of the fastest growing populations in Long Beach and Los Angeles County; there is especially a great need for services for low-income Hispanics; and LSS/SC continues to experience an increased number of requests for services from Hispanics.
The Hispanic Outreach Project (HOP) received initial funding in 1986 with a three year grant from LCMS World Relief. In 1989 the project began receiving funding from the City of Long Beach. The project has also received funding from other sources including the Hearst and Knight Foundations, Thrivent, United Way, and continues to receive large donations from individuals and church groups.
The Hispanic Outreach Project provides emergency assistance which gives vital aid and relief with basic immediate needs. To help those served develop long-term solutions, casework is provided which involves interview and referrals to community agencies with goals, progress, and outcomes maintained in case records. The Hispanic Outreach Project also provides educational programs concerning gang prevention, parenting, and family issues. An important part of the project is literacy training (English as a Second Language, ESL) provided in groups and classes for adults with qualified bilingual Hispanic staff and also volunteer tutors from the community and area churches. Participants of the project are given regular follow-up and support and are eligible for the full range of services offered in the Long Beach and South Bay Area.
The Hispanic Outreach Project of Lutheran Social Services/SC in Long Beach is the largest program in the area providing services for Hispanics. It is the only project offering a comprehensive range of services including emergency assistance, casework, a literacy program, and educational groups and classes. The Hispanic Outreach Project often helps produce dramatic improvements in participants’ lives, especially increased opportunities for employment and a more satisfying quality of life. Examples of initial outcomes resulting from our Hispanic Outreach Project include: increased motivation; improved self-esteem; improvements in reading and writing skills; increased ability to communicate with schools and clinics; and clients setting and pursuing some career and personal education goals with assistance. Intermediate outcomes include: literacy training with completion of skill levels; clients speaking English; job training; increased employment opportunities. Examples of longer-term outcomes include: clients having part-time or full-time employment; improvements in the workplace such as promotion and higher pay; and the ability to communicate in English with employers, family, and people in the community.
In the year of 2003 we received a number of calls and requests from our area churches and people in the community asking us to provide direction and help for people wanting to provide Ministry with the growing Hispanic population in Los Angeles County. At least 50% of the population is now Hispanic in many communities surrounding Long Beach. We then met in Norwalk with members of our area Lutheran Churches, Hispanics, and people from the community to develop a program to better serve Hispanics. The program design coming from these discussions and meetings focuses on strengthening the family, and its components provide activities and services for all ages and people in the family. The program was implemented in September 2003 at and in partnership with First Lutheran Church in Long Beach. (Please see our description of the First Lutheran Saturday Outreach Program.) We have also initiated discussions and met with other community organizations and agencies regarding additional needs of the Hispanic Community. A second new program developing from our Hispanic Outreach Project, Healthy Hispanic Families, was begun in 2004. (Please see our description of Healthy Hispanic Families.)