125-year-old Price Hill nonprofit helps resettle immigrant families

The organization serves about 2,300 people, of which around 40 percent are Latino.
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:40 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The work of an East Price Hill nonprofit that helps immigrants acclimate to the city is as important now as it’s ever been.

Santa Maria Community Services started in Over-the-Rhine helping Greeks, Germans and Italians resettle in the 1890s. Now that the demographics have shifted, the nonprofit serves a high population of Latino families.

“English classes, child care, employment opportunities and navigating through different things,” says Luz Elena Schemmel of the services Santa Maria provides.

Schemmel says the nonprofit is a welcoming place for the community to gather or seek assistance.

“I think of Santa Maria like a tree, like you come to see what that tree has in different branches,” she said. “We have an early childhood program. We have a workforce development program. We have a youth program. We have a wellness program. And we have a stable families program.”

Most of the programs have bilingual staff.

The organization serves about 2,300 people, of which around 40 percent are Latino.

For more than a decade, Schemmel has helped put together initiatives to improve the Latino community: clothing drives, bilingual GED programs and even a community garden.

But when the pandemic hit, Schemmel says the Price Hill Neighborhood was hit hard.

As a response, the agency started a food distribution service, held vaccine events and gave families computers and training.

“If something good came out of the pandemic, it’s that we had to empower families with technology,” she said.

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