Hispanic office set to open in Pelham

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hispanics make up 8 percent of Shelby County’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That’s the third highest percentage in Alabama, behind Franklin County (12.5 percent) and Marshall County (9 percent).

The state average in Alabama is 2.7 percent.

To help immigrants adjust to living here the county and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama plans to open a branch office in Pelham next year.

The office is set to open Jan. 1 in the Shelby County Services Building.

Isabel Rubio, director of the Birmingham-based organization, was approached by county officials and Sheriff Chris Curry about opening an office here after five Hispanic men were killed in a U.S. 280 apartment in August.

“It really brought it to the forefront — how important it is to communicate with the immigrant community,” said Rubio. “They wanted to be more inclusive.”

Rubio founded HICA eight years ago. The coalition helps mainly Spanish-speaking people in need.

For example, HICA offers interpreting for Hispanics, help with routine business like renewing a car tag or assistance with parents having problems at their child’s school.

“We help people untangle problems and sort of help them figure out how to get what they need,” Rubio said.