Bilingual Housing Clinic Coordinator
August 24, 2015 by BFC in Housing Our Staff
Wondimu Geda is a full time Bilingual Housing Clinic Coordinator with our Housing Access Program (HAP). Wandimu is fluent in Amharic, English, Afan Oromo, and Gurage. He works to make sure that our Amharic speaking clients have full access to HAP programming and often facilitates other BFC programs.
At Bread for the City, we value language access and see it as an integral piece of dignity and respect. All of our staff have been trained on our language access policies and know to offer interpretation services at every point of contact. If a staff member is not available to provide language services or interpretation we will call a telephonic interpretation service. For appointments scheduled ahead of time, we often bring in outside interpreters to facilitate culturally appropriate communication in meetings.
We are also always looking for ways to improve our offerings and reach new communities. Wondimu has taken the lead in translating program documents into Amharic. He leads a monthly Housing Access Clinic completely in Amharic. The demand for this workshop has been so high—it often fills up within a week of advertising—that he’s expanding it to multiple times monthly.
Here’s a quick interview with Wondimu on why he loves his work with BFC:
What’s your favorite part of being a Bilingual Housing Clinic Coordinator with BFC?
My favorite part of being a Bilingual Housing Coordinator with BFC is meeting clients, discussing issues with them in their native language (in Amharic and sometimes in Oromo language) and becoming part of the solution to some of their problems and addressing their needs. It is interesting that some of our clients who are coming to BFC just to participate on our HAP are accessing other public benefits and social services (like SSI, SSDI, Retirement benefits Health Insurance, legal services etc.) about which they did not know before. I am always motivated by the amazing TEAM work of the BFC family!
Why is your project – Amharic HAP – important? What has the impact been?
Our Amharic speaking clients can get information about the Housing issues in DC areas through the Amharic HAP Clinic information session and the translated HAP documents. I also think our Amharic speaking clients are encouraged to apply to subsidized apartments and are using their worksheets during their applications.
What’s your dream for Amharic services at BFC?
I am hoping that our Amharic HAP will grow and BFC will be more inclusive by addressing our Amharic speaking clients’ specific needs in its housing advocacy work and in its general strategic planning. I hope BFC will continue to expand the bilingual staff across departments.
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