Newcomer center to open despite funding shortage

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 19, 2002

After many twists and turns finding a funding source, the Albert Lea Newcomer’s Resource Center will finally open its doors next week.

The new office next to Community Action, its parent organization, on Stevens Street has a multi-cultural atmosphere, furnished with posters praising diversity and a piata hung from the ceiling.

The center provides job and social service information to residents who are new to the community. Bilingual coordinator Odelia E. Herrera was hired to answer questions from Spanish-speaking newcomers and establish a network with businesses and social service agencies.

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The center will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The original plan was for it to be open more often. But it was forced to open later than expected and with a scaled-down schedule because of financial woes in state government.

A grant application for $77,000 to the Department of Public Safety was denied this year. And $20,000 the Freeborn County Family Service Collaborative promised was also gone because the appropriation was contingent on the state funding.

Of the center’s $15,000 annual budget pot, only $6,000 has been filled so far. While Community Action is applying for a grant from the United Way, it will also charge a small amount of fees on its services to assist own finances.

&uot;The charge is going to be affordable,&uot; said Community Action Executive Director Collette Turcotte. &uot;Someday, grants will dry up. We have to be self-sufficient.&uot;