Hempstead Town residents are now able to speak with translators of 17 languages for town government business.
Town Supervisor Anthony Santino, Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby and Clerk Nasrin Ahmad announced the “Language Access Initiative” at a news conference Thursday. The program’s goal is to “make our municipal government more accessible” to Hempstead’s diverse community, Santino said.
“We always want the welcome mat to be out here at town hall,” he said.
Forty-two town employees have signed up for the program and speak Creole, Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Memoni, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Sindhi, Slovak, Spanish, Ukrainian, Urdu and American Sign Language. They will be available to translate at town meetings, as well as for any other aspect of town government business.
The translation services will not add extra costs for the taxpayers, Santino said.
The supervisor said one of his grandfathers only spoke Italian. “Many other families have similar stories,” he said.
Mildred Menendez, an assistant in the clerk’s office, speaks Spanish. Her parents came to the United States from Cuba; she also translates for the Freeport village court.
“They feel so comfortable when you can speak their language,” Menendez said.
Heather Crosley, a deputy town attorney, speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. She wanted to teach Spanish before deciding to go into law.
“It’s a matter of helping people,” she said.
Daniela Sorrenti, who also works in the clerk’s office, speaks Slovak, Czech and Polish. She is originally from Slovakia. So far, no one has requested her to translate but she believes she’ll be speaking to the town’s Polish population most.
Anyone who needs translation services should call the town clerk’s office 72 hours in advance at 516-489-5000, extension 5682.