Two Roanoke Valley women learn Spanish during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure equality

Their goal is to make sure marginalized communities weren’t left behind

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – When the coronavirus pandemic began, there was a lot of “language” introduced to society that was new but critical to learn quickly. However, when the words are in a different language, they don’t mean much to a person unfamiliar with that language.

Two women, Abby Hamilton and Pamela Chitwood, stepped in to break the language barrier by learning Spanish in an effort to serve the Hispanic and Latino community.

“I think one of the beautiful ways that we connect is through language,” said Abby Hamilton, president and ceo of the United Way of the Roanoke Valley.

“When you meet people where they are you get things done,” said Pamela Chitwood, associate director of community impact for the United Way of the Roanoke Valley.

Chitwood has teamed up with area health districts (such as the West Piedmont Health District) to plan mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination events. Wednesday, she was successful in vaccinating dozens in the Hispanic and Latino and African American communities outside a Franklin County market.

“The relationship you build with others is just as important as the language that you speak,” said Chitwood.

Her goal was to make sure those in marginalized communities, many of whom saw the most devastation during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, weren’t left behind.

“I think one of the most important things we can do as community partners is make that space comfortable; make that space be safe for people and a place where they know they can trust you,” stated Hamilton.

For more information on the United Way of the Roanoke Valley, click here.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.