Started from the Bottom, Literally

Starting in the basement of a D.C home in 1988, Mary’s Center accommodates Latinos. The organization was founded for Latina women who were fleeing Central America’s violence and drug wars.

There was an influx of women who didn’t know English, America, or how to get adequate healthcare for the suffering they endured.

The president of the organization, Maria S. Gomez, worked for the Department of Health and decided to open her practice to help women who came to the region from Central America.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, between 1980 and 1990 1,134,000 Latinx immigrants crossed the border. The majority were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. 276,000 settled in the DMV in that time. Currently, there are 5,949,000 Latinx immigrants residing in the DMV.

Lyda Vanegas, the Director of Communications and Public Relations, said: “the passion lies within each person on board.”

Their idea is that those the community supports will then achieve higher economic stability. “There are support workers who will go out to your home, provide people services, help them navigate through the system, teach them English and computer skills. [This] will ultimately help them move up the economic ladder and is very proactive for children,” Vanegas said.

Linda Strong from The Center for American Progress said, “There was an influx of Latinx coming to America during the Central War, and they needed a lot of help. There has been a great amount of progression.”

Being in America and not knowing can English limit job searches. The Mary’s Center for the Maternal aims to make sure everyone has equal opportunities to achieve economic stability.

According to the Population Division US Census Bureau, 41.7% of people between the ages of 25-34 don’t know English and are employed. This signifies that more than half the people who don’t know English are unemployed. From the ages 35-44, 40.9% are employed and don’t understand English. The older you are, the more complicating it is to find a job without knowing English.

The organization has medical, social, dental, behavioral health and educational services.

“Mary’s Center tries to be a one-stop shop because most families have work and can’t take time off to go to the doctor,” Vanegas said.

Vanegas also noted a lot of people don’t admit when they need support, but Mary’s Center has a mental health service that they provide. Mary's wants to ensure health, stability, and opportunity for each patient.

The organization receives money through donations. Last year, the center gave out 6 million dollars in free care, according to Vanegas.

Every Thanksgiving there is a food drive and each Christmas the center holds a gift drive.

Mary’s Center has seven locations throughout Washington, D.C. The different places are in areas where Mary’s Center says it is needed. There is also a partnership with schools.

Mary’s Center believes if you give a community love, they will give it back.