Publication Date

2002

Abstract

While working in the Youth Services Department of the local Red Cross chapter for Washington, DC and Fairfax County, VA training youth HIV/AIDS Peer Educators I became aware that the Chapter's outreach to the Latino Community of Washington, DC was not going as smoothly as it had hoped. Specifically, it was finding it difficult to attract participants for its classes and programs - and to attract volunteers. Did the strategies currently in place need to be re-evaluated? What additional strategies did they need to put into place? Discussions with people in other Red Cross departments led to the questions to be examined in this paper, namely, what are the cultural styles of the National Capital Chapter of the American Red Cross and those of the Washington, DC Latino Community and how can that information be put to use in the future when launching programs or re-evaluating existing ones? The majority of the literature describes "cultural factors" as being very important when designing and implementing programs for any Latino community - or any community for that matter. The definitions of "cultural factors" are very general: language, traditions, etc. Part of the purpose of this paper is to define those "cultural factors" in more depth, thereby making it easier to design programs and classes that will have the greatest impact on the Latino Community as a whole. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the Red Cross staff and people involved in the DC Latino Community. The purpose of the questionnaire was to ascertain certain attributes and actions that were seen as necessary to promote participation by the Latino Community in social service programs. A secondary purpose was to ascertain the cultural styles of the Red Cross and Latino Community based on the work of Hofstede and Hall as examined in the literature review. The results demonstrate that there is a need for more communication between the Red Cross and the DC Latino Community in order to bridge the gap of the needs of the DC Latino Community as perceived by the Red Cross and those needs that the Latino Community experience. Some aspects of culture that were addressed by the Red Cross did make it easier for the Latino Community to become involved. However, there were some aspects that needed to be addressed in more depth, addressed in a different way, or at all to make it more comfortable for the average person in the DC Latino Community to become involved in the programs that the Red Cross offers.

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