By Jacque Garcia (Moab Times-Independent)- The Moab Valley Multicultural Center (MVMC) helped a record number of people this year, and staff hope to help even more in 2018.
“[This year] at the multicultural center was epic,” said MVMC executive director Rhiana Medina.
Medina said this year was special for a number of reasons, one being that it was the 10-year anniversary of the center. The past year also saw the retirement of the organization’s founder, Leticia Bentley.
“I think my staff would agree with me if I say we’ve been really busy,” Medina said.
The center collects quantitative data each year in order to reflect on their performance. These statistics, sent out in the MVMC end-of-year newsletter, report that in 2017 the center helped almost 5,000 people from 11 different demographics. This accounts for nearly 3,000 program hours with staff and volunteers actively helping people in the community.
Medina explains that, for her staff, this has been a year that required them to step up their game to meet challenges. “There was just more of everything,” Medina said. “We don’t have new branding but we’re continuing to put our branding in new places. We’re just focusing on doing what we’re doing really well.”
The team refined their processes and explored the capacity of their programs to maximize the amount of people they can help. According to Medina, many people find their way to the MVMC soon after they move to town, and usually through word of mouth. The center helps families get children registered for school, find possible job openings, and search for available housing. The MVMC’s strongest asset, to Medina, is as a resource to provide accessibility throughout Moab.
“Collaboration is one of our organizational values. We take that very seriously,” Medina said. “The multicultural center is such an important connector of so many different sectors of the community, and it’s such a joy and a pleasure to be able to increase the accessibility.”
The center conducted three major fundraisers this year. Describing them, Medina said, “The multicultural center also likes to celebrate.” In ‘Dancing with the Moab Stars’ the center hosted a competition where local instructors danced with Moab celebrities, including mayor-elect Emily Niehaus. The center also held a Day of the Dead party. “The local community is very supportive of that,” added Medina.
Medina believes some of the MVMC’s effectiveness is due to the fact that all six of her staff are bilingual. That staffing has doubled since 2013, when there was only a three-person staff. This year, in order to maintain a staff of six, the center will be hiring two new team members. One, to replace current Americorp Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) staff member Haley Austin when her program ends in March, and the other for a bilingual education coordinator/advocate.
“[The past year] was about where we’ve been and 2018 is about where we’re going,” said Medina, as she looks ahead. “[The coming year] is going to be about listening to, and participating in larger community conversations to have a very clear understanding of what the needs of the community are now and in the next five years, so that when we are making a strategic plan going forward, we know that what we’re going to do is both meet the needs of our mission and the community at large.”
Medina also spoke of the collaborative spirit she feels in the community now, saying, “I’m excited to see what we might be able to accomplish working together.”
For more information about the center visit moabmc.org.