To the editor:
On Thursday, April 16th, City Administrator, Kendal Francis, held a Kendal’s Koffee session especially for the Spanish speaking community. While this information session targeted Spanish speaking residents, there were also a number of other Great Bend residents that attended. Informational session statistics indicated the meeting had one of the highest attendance rates!
Earlier in February, I attended a City Council meeting where the importance of diversity and inclusion within community was stressed and the need to communicate more effectively with the Spanish speaking residents of Great Bend. We have since seen progress being made in a number of ways and by many different organizations.
The City has hired a bilingual employee to help with fielding questions and serving the residents. Websites for the city, county and the Great Bend Tribune are able to be translated to one’s chosen languages. Written communications such as informational flyers and announcements pertaining to executive orders, ordinances, city announcements, COVID-19, etc. are available in Spanish to keep residents informed on the City’s website.
During April 1, Kendal’s Koffee session, I asked Mr. Francis if it was possible to host an information session especially for the Spanish speaking residents. Mr. Francis agreed to host and the Hispanic community quickly began to gather resources to help.
Venessa Favela, a resident of Great Bend that works for the hospital and the school system as a nurse’s assistant, provided translation for the audience. Miss Favela also worked with USD 428 to send communication to the parents of school children. The Hispanic Business Council gathered questions from the community, spoke to various business owners and employees and also publicized the event via social media, e-mail and posted flyers. Mr. Francis provided helpful information about the city operations and services provided. He also fielded online questions. Most of the time was spent answering a wide variety of questions that came from the community in advance about the topic of COVID-19. Questions such as “Can I take my kids to the grocery store? Can we ride our bikes on the bike path? Where can I get help if I lost my job? Is the food bank open?” A collection of the questions and answers will be available in Spanish on the City’s website.
This is an example of how we can do better. This is also a huge first step towards bridging the communication gap and improving community inclusion.
Thank you to City Administrator, Kendal Francis, for his time and willingness to host future informational sessions to keep the Spanish speaking community informed. Thank you to Christina Hayes, CVB Director & Community Coordinator, for helping to organize the Zoom meeting and creating the promotional flyers. Thank you to Venessa Favela for answering questions, providing educational assistance and translating for the community.
Best wishes for good health now and always.