The story of Lydia, from Guatemala, illustrates the work that the nonprofit group Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland does to help immigrants and refugees who live in Frederick County.
Lydia was abandoned by both parents at birth and left in the care of her poor grandmother.
When she was 9, a family member began sexually abusing her for several years. When she was 13, her grandmother passed away, leaving Lydia alone and emotionally devastated. Lydia walked for two months and crossed the border into the United States as an unaccompanied youth to reunite with an aunt. She enrolled in Frederick County schools and for the first time felt like a member of a family.
At age 16, her world felt apart again. She was brutally raped by her uncle and became pregnant. The uncle denied it, and the entire family turned their backs on her, kicked her out of the house, and accused her of being a liar. She dropped out of school and went to live with a friend. The trauma of losing her family sent her into a deep depression.
Upon referral, SSCM began an action plan to help this victimized child who was lost, panicked, without money and wondering how she was going to care for her 1-month-old baby.
SSCM was able to engage partner support, take her to social services for monetary support, obtain a crib, stroller, car seat, diapers, clothing, gift cards, and other necessities such as food for over a year. SSCM has driven them both to the routine doctor visits, emergency ones and therapy appointments for Lydia. SSCM coached Lydia during situations when the baby had been sick. SSCM had served as translators and attended court and prosecutor’s meetings during the investigation to conviction. SSCM helped her write her testimony, and then read her testimony in court to the judge on her behalf since she was too distraught to do so herself.
Now SSCM is in the process of helping her legalize her status. Lydia has recently married, is happy, stable, and full of dreams. The next phase, after the delivery of her second baby, will be to help her learn English, obtain her GED and help her find employment. “Mom,” as she calls the SSCM Executive Director, will continue to provide support a hug and guidance as needed.
SSCM works with newly enrolled international students from Frederick County Public Schools to see if they qualify for a status that will allow them to work legally in the county and not resort to illegal activity to try and survive.
SSCM also works with mothers referred from Heartly House to see if they and their children can qualify for a work permit, so that they can ultimately leave their abusers and be able to provide for their families.
But SSCM services go beyond that. SSCM offers "full-circle" case management as oftentimes clients present more than one issue. This is the hands-on case management that SSCM provides – not only a temporary solution for their immediate need but a "forever solution" that is life-changing.