Tennessee Disability Pathfinder partners with Hispanic Family Foundation to provide hands-on community service

Left to right: Alexander Santana, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder Multicultural Program Coordinator; Monica Reyes; Cristina Allen, Hispanic Family Foundation Interim Director; Blanca Scott; Cecilia Melo-Romie, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder Statewide Spanish Outreach Coordinator; Leon Berrios; and Diana Perez.

Tennessee Disability Pathfinder’s Multicultural Outreach team has partnered with the Hispanic Family Foundation (HFF) to provide face-to-face assistance to Nashvillians in the Spanish-speaking community.

Situated among several Spanish-speaking businesses at 3927 Nolensville Pike in Nashville, the Hispanic Family Foundation’s mission is to improve and strengthen the lives of Nashville’s Hispanic community through legal, economic, social, and cultural services. The multipurpose space is used by HFF and outside organizations to offer health navigation, social services, and legal consultation, lead English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and meet other needs through various activities in the shared space.

“We strive to meet the needs of the Latino community by assessing their accessibility to social, economic, and legal needs,” said HFF interim director Cristina O. Allen. “We then provide programs, either by collaboration or with specific professionals, to serve them in a respectful and dignified way.”

So it seemed like a match made in heaven when Allen coordinated with Pathfinder’s Multicultural Outreach Program to schedule face-to-face appointments between Pathfinder staff members and Spanish-speaking families of children with disabilities as opposed to being limited to phone conversations only.

“Having face-to-face interactions helps to build trust and rapport, which can often be more difficult to do when assisting individuals with language and cultural differences over the phone,” said Megan Hart, M.Ed., Tennessee Disability Pathfinder director. “It also means we are demonstrating culturally sensitive practices by being accessible to individuals within their community.”

“We are so excited that our Spanish-speaking Multicultural Outreach team is able to go out into the community and meet the people they are serving in person,” added Elise McMillan, J.D., Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD) co-director and director of Community Engagement and Public Policy. “Just having that extra connection with the community is a great way for Pathfinder to inform the public about their multicultural services, and it also presents a remarkable opportunity for Pathfinder to make connections with other organizations who serve our diverse city.”

Photo of Alexander Santana

Alexander Santana

Photo of Cecilia Melo-Romie

Cecilia Melo-Romie

Pathfinder staff members Alexander Santana and Cecilia Melo-Romie visit the HFF headquarters twice a week to meet with those who schedule appointments as well as those who drop in with a need. While there, Santana and Melo-Romie assist clients with tasks like offering translation services and navigating services past language barriers.

“Having Pathfinder as a collaborative partner at the HFF offices allow both our missions to be served as Pathfinder has been a leader in meeting the needs of all our community members,” said Cristina Allen. “Their staff is wonderful! They are bilingual and bring a sensitive and caring trait to the families versus interaction via a phone conversation. We are blessed to have them come to serve the community in South Nashville as this is where the community lives and feels comfortable receiving services.

“Pathfinder has done an amazing job in their community outreach in serving other nonprofit organizations and educating them on multicultural initiatives. No other organization has served in this role with this mission. Their reputation and staff have done a wonderful job of inclusion, and it is reflected in their outreach to the HFF community.”

HFF promotes Tennessee Disability Pathfinder services as well as their scheduled days in-house through PSAs aired en español through the airwaves of several Spanish-speaking radio stations.

“We are receiving an increased number of referrals as result of partnering with HFF and benefiting from the media publicity they’re providing,” said Hart. She adds that Pathfinder would love to build upon the success they’ve found with their work with the Hispanic Family Foundation with other community organizations.

“We are hopeful that our work with HFF could lead to other collaborations in the future by serving as a model partnership.”

“HFF opened their doors in mid-January, and there are tons of opportunity for increasing services and collaborations,” said Allen. “As we assess all we are doing, I know more opportunities will evolve.”

To schedule an appointment with Tennessee Disability Pathfinder at the HFF office, contact Multicultural Outreach Program coordinator Alexander Santana at (615) 875-5083 or alexander.santana@vanderbilt.edu.

To learn more about Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, call (615) 322-8529 or visit www.familypathfinder.org.

For more information about services provided by the Hispanic Family Foundation, visit http://hispanicfamilyfoundation.com/ or call (615) 562-2222.

Elizabeth Turner is VKC Communications coordinator.

Pictured top of page, left to right: Alexander Santana, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder Multicultural Program Coordinator; Monica Reyes; Cristina Allen, Hispanic Family Foundation Interim Director; Blanca Scott; Cecilia Melo-Romie, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder Statewide Spanish Outreach Coordinator; Leon Berrios; and Diana Perez. 

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