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Identity & Community
Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

AIU's Latino Community Center Finds New Hazelwood Home

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Deanna Garcia
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90.5 WESA

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Latino Family Center is in a new Hazelwood space this month, their third since the unit first opened in 2009.

“It’s affordable to live here, and they have services like the Latino Family Center that can at least give them a sense of community and they know they have advocates in us and even if they’re trying to access something and can’t,” site director Rosamaria Cristello said. “They’ll come to us. They have that support.”

The center, one of 26 family centers operated through the AIU, supports a Parents as Teachers Home Visiting Program and Immigrant Services and Connections initiative with English as a Second Language, nutrition, sewing and prenatal and postpartum classes. It’s the only non-neighborhood site geared toward a specific population, Cristello said.

“While the parents are in ESL classes, the children are in kindergarten readiness; we have the Latino Parents United in Action group, (and) they’ve become the voice of the Latino community in the Pittsburgh Public School system,” she said.

In moving to a larger facility, center officials wanted to ensure those who use its services could still get there. Cristello said that while the center offers resources and support, the place is much more to those who utilize its services.

“It doesn’t matter if we have the most beautiful, best-looking space if you guys can’t get to it,” Cristello said. "We are really a part of their family."