The Hispanic Assistance and Bilingual Access Project, commonly known as HABLA, celebrated its 10-year anniversary on September 15, 2010. The telephonic Spanish-English interpretation call center is operated by The Center for Child and Family Studies, College of Social Work, University of South Carolina, under a contract with the South Carolina Department of Social Services. HABLA serves as a means of facilitating communication between DSS workers and their Spanish-speaking clients with limited English proficiency (LEP) while meeting the need for sensitivity, confidentiality, and immediacy.
HABLA has grown from a staff of just two USC Peace Corps Fellows and their supervisor to a full staff of 18 bilingual graduate students and community interpreters who staff six telephone lines offering services from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. during the week. HABLA also provides translation services for DSS correspondence and other materials including forms, court documents, brochures, and books. Additionally, as part of the Community Initiatives Division, the Center provides testing and training for bilingual employees and those who wish to provide interpreter services under contract with DSS and the Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The HABLA program celebrated its anniversary on September 15, the kickoff of Hispanic Heritage Month, with a potluck luncheon for the staff. HABLA staff members provided musical entertainment as part of the cultural celebration. The founders of HABLA, including Bo Galliher, Don Rosick, and Carl Maas were the guests of honor. Wendy Campbell, also a founding member, was unable to attend but says that “the heart of HABLA lies in the hundreds of graduate students from Peace Corps and all over the world who have given so much of themselves to this program. In my opinion, HABLA is one of the best-kept secrets in South Carolina of the power of multicultural and multidisciplinary collaboration.”