FLS interpreters say without a doubt that working for families through our Department of Human Resources has become a passion and a calling. This is especially true when disasters happen.
In April, 2010 after the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, the fishing community of Bayou La Batrie, Alabama and other citizens of South Mobile County were predominantly out of work until the Gulf of Mexico could be cleaned up. Alabama’s governor and the Department of Human Resources came to the rescue by issuing food stamps to any family needing it whose jobs were in limbo. Among these were many Vietnamese and Cambodian families. FLS provided Vietnamese interpreters onsite in Bayou La Batrie for four months, serving 248 individuals. We translated forms into Khmer, Laotian, and Vietnamese and provided additional over-the-phone interpreting services in all three languages.
Barely a year later, in the Spring of 2011, tornados hit 19 counties mostly in central Alabama with full force, killing many, destroying housing and businesses. Once again, FLS interpreters provided lifelines to these families in 19 Alabama counties, including those needing American Sign Language. Food stamps were again offered and FLS Spanish interpreters manned food stamp distribution centers for two weeks.
Since 2008, FLS has proudly provided interpreters on a daily basis to most of the 67 counties in Alabama. Our interpreters assist with food stamps, family assistance, and child support, and often provide crucial communications among the families, DHR, and the court system. One interpreter remarked, “I would not trade this job… I know that I make a difference in the lives of many.” In so doing, she echoed what FLS project managers and interpreters across the state were experiencing.