Find Help

Get the help you need in a friendly and caring environment, Access services in English or Spanish, why wait in line? Our 211 Information and Referral as well as the Ohio Benefit Bank services are available on a walk-in basis.

We all experience hardship from time to time and need somewhere to turn that will help us through a difficult situation. Keep reading for specific information about the different services we have, to help our community. Most services are handled in-house or through our extensive referral network.

Every 3rd Thursday of the month from 3:30 pm-5:30 pm El Centro has a food pantry for income-eligible households (200% of federal poverty line); Photo ID and proof of Ohio residency required. We offer a box of non-perishable food and a selection of groceries, all provided by Second Harvest of North Central Ohio. All food items are made available on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is recommended that you arrive early. Due to the volume created by COVID-19, services are now provided at Oakwood Park. For emergency food assistance, call us at (440) 277-8235.

Do you need food before the third Thursday? Need to know where you can get assistance with rent or utilities? Or maybe you need clothes, furniture, or diapers? We can search a database for the services you need in Lorain County and help you find what you need right away. Just dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-275-6106 to find the information you need or make an appointment with a Community Health & Supportive Services case manager to assist. Services are available in English and Spanish.

Do you qualify for Medicaid, SNAP (also known as food stamps), or cash assistance? Or maybe you think you might be, but you aren’t sure? Our staff has been trained as Ohio Benefit Bank counselors and can help you complete the applications for food stamps, cash assistance and Medicaid.

Need help learning how to make a budget or repair your credit? El Centro offers financial empowerment classes to help you get your financial life on the right track. Call us at (440) 277-8235 to sign up or get additional information.

“CLASSES ARE ALWAYS FREE! Classes to meet any schedule, beginner and intermediate classes available. Learn in a formal classroom or through one-on-one tutoring. Open up a world of possibilities for new jobs and opportunities!”

It’s tough to build a life in your local community when everyone speaks a different language. Learning English can help with many aspects of daily living in Lorain County, but most of all, we strive to help you feel like a part of the community!

Through LCCC’s Aspire Program, El Centro offers English for Speakers of Other Languages classes all throughout the year. Both day and night classes are available during the week. Interested students must attend an orientation (offered periodically in the spring and fall) before starting classes. We also offer small group tutoring in conversational English on Saturdays with volunteers from Oberlin College during the academic year. These drop-in tutoring sessions are more informal and conversational in nature, and do not require an orientation. Contact us at (440) 277-8235 to learn more when the next orientation will be offered or tutoring availability.

“Get help from a kind and caring caseworker who can communicate with you in your language of choice, Two heads are better than one and it never hurts to have someone else at your doctor’s appointments to make sure you understand everything and know when your next appointment is scheduled, Get out of the house and have fun meeting people and making new friends!”

Are you or a loved one in need of help as you age? Are you looking for opportunities to get out of the house and socialize? Through the El Dorado Senior Program, El Centro provides essential services and socialization to primarily monolingual (Spanish) senior citizens in Lorain.

Support Services

In order to address the barriers to accessing appropriate care, El Dorado caseworkers provide medical interpretation, transportation to medical and social service appointments, form preparation, and advocacy. If you or a loved one are a senior (age 65+) in Lorain County struggling to make it to medical appointments or communicate with your doctor due to a language barrier, reach out to El Centro at (440) 277-8235 to enroll in the program.

Socialization Day

Want to get out of the house and socialize with others? Through the El Dorado senior program, El Centro offers a weekly socialization day for Latino seniors on Thursdays starting at 9:30am. Come join us for bingo, dominoes, lunch, and have fun!

During the socialization day, we also provide follow-up for case management, lead health education workshops, provide health fairs, offer special activities, and celebrate holidays. Transportation is available as well. To enroll yourself or a loved one in the program, call El Centro at (440) 277-8235 and ask to speak to an El Dorado caseworker.

“Safe and confidential help when you need it.”

Are you or a loved one struggling with a mental illness or chronic illness? Our staff can help point you in the right direction and be there to assist you with any questions you may have along the way.

The Mental Health Navigator

Know that you need help with your mental health, but do not know where to start? Finding the right mental health service can be overwhelming. We can help you find the right mental health service with personalized help from the Lorain County Navigator, available in English and Spanish. You can call for yourself or your child. Here is how it works:

  1. Call the Navigator at (440) 240-7025 and discuss your mental health concerns.
  2. The Navigator will connect you with an agency that provides mental health services, considering which agencies are right for your needs and have the shortest wait times.
  3. In a three-way phone call, we will help you make your first appointment. We will also work with the agency to help you solve issues with payment/insurance, transportation, and language barriers, so that by the time you hang up, everything is accomplished.

The Navigator is available weekdays between 8am-4:30pm. You can also call and leave a message anytime.

If you are having a psychiatric emergency, call 1-800-888-6161 or 911 - For all other medical emergencies, dial 911.

Are you having a hard time controlling your diabetes or another chronic condition? Have you gotten a diagnosis but no explanation as to what steps you should take to prevent it from getting worse? If so, you are not alone. El Centro offers an education program especially for Latinos with health problems called Tomando Control de Su Salud (Taking Control of your Health). This seven-week class is offered in Spanish several times a year.

In addition to learning more about your illness, you will learn how to communicate with your doctors in a more effective way, how to take medicine safely, and the importance of diet and exercise to feeling better and living healthier. Want to learn how to survive and thrive with a chronic illness? We can help. Call (440) 277-8235 and ask about Tomando Control for more details.

El Centro in collaboration with Unidos US and the support of the Walmart Foundation delivers the Comprando Rico y Sano program, where promotores de salud (community health workers) conduct charlas (small educational sessions), grocery store tours, and cooking demonstrations to promote health-conscious shopping, smart food choices, and cost-saving strategies, as well as educate and enroll eligible Latinos into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Federal food assistance programs are effective at reducing hunger in Latino and other minority communities. That is why we work to enroll eligible Latinos in SNAP. SNAP provides additional resources to families for food spending, with the goal of improving the quantity and quality of food that they buy. Participation in the program is linked to increases in food security and improved nutritional outcomes for children.

Busy schedules sometimes lead us to choose unhealthy options such as fast food but making healthy food choices is possible while on a limited budget and tight schedule. Your family can eat nutritious, quick, and affordable meals at home. Join us and learn how to:

  • Save money and time at the supermarket
  • Prepare delicious and healthy recipes you can make at home
  • Our nutritional habits today affect our health tomorrow. Educate yourself on health risks and how you can take steps to avoid cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other debilitating illnesses. Learn to:
    • Tips for healthy food buying
    • How to choose and prepare seasonal fruits and vegetables

“Get help from someone who knows the immigration process, we can provide referrals to our network of immigration advocates as well as lawyers and elected officials, our services are free or low-cost.”

Becoming an American citizen is the dream of many immigrants here in the US. Unfortunately, the process can be intimidating for even the most legally educated. El Centro can help.

El Centro offers citizenship classes on Saturday mornings in the spring and fall for those preparing for the naturalization exam. This class, taught by bilingual students from Oberlin College, covers all the material on the 100-question civics exam, including history, geography, and American government. The class will also help you gain confidence in your English skills for the writing and reading part of the exam. At the end of the class, El Centro provides a mock exam with a USCIS officer.

Along with the class itself, El Centro caseworkers will connect you with immigration lawyers, law students, or paralegals that can help you file your N-400, and provide transportation and case management throughout the naturalization process if necessary.

Need other immigration services? El Centro also hosts mobile Mexican consulates once or twice a year to provide various services, such as renewing or replacing Mexican passports, consular IDs (la matricula), and birth certificates. Between visits from the Mexican consulate, we also provide support and advocacy for emergency and non-emergency situations you may be facing. Contact us at (440) 277-8235 for more details or to set up an appointment.

“Get the resources you need to help your child succeed at school. Help prepare your intermediate or middle school student to be a caring and engaged member of our community. Learn about great activities for your child that will help you child tap into their greatness. Become empowered to help your child prepare for work, college or just everyday life.”

Nothing is more important to us than our children, and when it comes to raising a child who is ready to make a positive difference in their school, their neighborhood, and the world, El Centro is here to help you every step of the way. We help intermediate and middle school students and their families through the 231GO! Middle School Collaborative. Through the Collaborative, El Centro organizes the efforts of many local organizations to help kids do better in school, get involved in after-school activities with trained, responsible mentors, and give back to their community through service-learning.

Services for Children and Youth

El Centro is the backbone agency of the 231GO! Middle School Collaborative powered by United Way of Lorain County. Through the Collaborative, we provide services to youth from 5th to 8th grade in the 231 Census Tract (South Lorain) and surrounding neighborhoods. El Centro provides and partners with local agencies to deliver programs and workshops that increase motivation to learn and create valuable roles in the community through mentoring, service-learning projects, and summer camps.

To learn more about opportunities for after-school workshops or summer activities through 231GO!, call El Centro at (440) 277-8235 and ask to be connected to the youth coordinator. You can also visit the 231Go! Collaborative Website.

El Centro is proud to partner with Lorain County Community College to offer Padres Comprometidos (parental engagement classes). The Padres Comprometidos class, offered in English and Spanish, helps parents learn how to effectively engage with schools and play a leading role in preparing their children for college. The program addresses language and culture as assets, rather than obstacles, upon which skills, confidence, and ultimately, empowerment, are built.

To find out more about how you can take part in a Padres Comprometidos class, call El Centro at (440) 277-8235 and ask when the next class is in session.