The Institute hosts event to train human service providers to better understand and serve Ulster County’s Q’eqchi’ community

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Sophia Guida

The Institute hosts event to train human service providers to better understand and serve Ulster County’s Q’eqchi’ community

February 27, 2024

On February 14, the Institute hosted a special training event for Ulster County health and human service providers to learn how to better serve members of the immigrant community whose first language is Q’eqchi’, one of the numerous Mayan languages indigenous to Guatemala and Belize. This training was held at the Pine Street Family Health Center community room and drew over 60 attendees, including Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger and numerous staff from community organizations, service agencies, schools, and health care providers.

Within Ulster County’s growing immigrant community, many new arrivals are coming from Peten department, a region in northeastern Guatemala where Q’eqchi’ is the main language. While many service providers and advocacy groups in Kingston are equipped to provide support in Spanish, it is less common to find resources in Q’eqchi’.

The event was organized by Mano a Mano, a coalition of community organizations dedicated to serving the Spanish speaking community of Ulster County by providing a structure where agencies, individuals, businesses, and organizations work collaboratively to network, support, and foster a diverse community.

Presenters included Andelina*, a member of the Q’eqchi’ community, Daniel Woodham, a caseworker with Ulster Immigrant Defense Network, and Susanne Callahan, vice president for planning and community engagement for the Institute’s Mid-Hudson region. The training included an overview of the history and culture of the Q’eqchi’ people, the challenges of immigration, and also specific recommendations for how service providers can better meet the needs of Q’eqchi’-speakers. Participants also practiced a few words and phrases in Q’eqchi’.

“The presentation is important, it helps others to know more about the Q’eqchi’ people and why they immigrate,” said Andelina. “It helps others understand what immigrants go through and the sacrifices they make.”

“For the last 2+ years, as case worker with Ulster Immigrant Defense Network, I’ve been waiting for this day to happen,” said Woodham. “The people in attendance represented the Kingston health and social service sectors, the public schools administration, as well as representatives from Ulster County and the city of Kingston. All these groups in one room learning about how to work better with not only the Q’eqchi’ population of Kingston and Ulster County but immigrants in general. Hopefully it is only the first of many such gatherings coming in the near future.”

The Institute is thrilled to join Ulster County organizations in welcoming and serving both newcomers and longtime residents. Anyone who needs health services can call us at (844) 434-2778 for an appointment, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status.


*Surname removed at individual’s request.