Task force assists non-native English speakers

Huntington, Ind.—Bev Rutan’s senior practicum at Huntington University included working with Habitat for Humanity to help the organization create a task force to assist non-English speaking families from the community receive resources.

“We found that there are so many bits and pieces that people are doing in the community of Huntington to really promote the issue of English as a second language and reach out to the Hispanic community,” said Carla MacDonald, assistant professor of social work. “So Steve Miller from Habitat from Humanity asked me if I could give Bev [Rutan] the assignment of getting together a task force that would deal with this issue, and that’s how it came together.”

Working with four other people from the community, Rutan, a social work major from Huntington, created the task force, Linc, or Language Inclusion. Meeting a total of four times, the group’s first priority was to come up with a purpose and mission statement.

The purpose of Linc is “to seek to foster inclusion by advocating dignity for all citizens of the community by existing together to generate and make available community resources for speakers of diverse languages.”

“Our goal was to reach some of the families that are part of the community and are having trouble getting services in the community,” Rutan said. “We wanted to get these families involved with the task force, so we weren’t doing something for them, but rather, they were involved in the process.”

When Rutan graduated in 2007, Valerie Geer of Huntington took over as Linc’s chairwoman. Geer said that the task force is meeting about once a month, pooling together community resources so that they can make them known and available for the non-native English speakers in the community.

“It includes a broad sphere of resources, including the public education system,” Geer said. “We have a growing number of non-native English speaking students in the public school system. It also includes social work, the medical community and many different aspects of life for non-native English speakers.”

The goals of Linc haven’t changed much since Rutan started the group last spring. Rutan said that her goal of the task force was to “go beyond the language and go where everyone is accepted and included in the community and where they can express their needs and their concerns.”

Geer shared the current goals of Linc. “Education is the main goal, and not only educating the non-native English speakers, but to educate our community of Huntington about how to better welcome non-native English speakers and how to have a better attitude toward them. Also, we just want to raise awareness that they are here because many people from Huntington don’t know that they are here.”

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Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington University is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in northeast Indiana. The University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).  


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