LEXINGTON, Ky. — Centro de San Juan Diego in Lexington held a vaccination clinic helping members of the Hispanic community get their shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Catholic diocese offered support, privacy and efficiency during their Sunday clinic. 

What You Need To Know

  • Centro de san Juan Diego was founded by Dot, Jim Bennett

  • Centro church is a Apostolate of the Catholic diocese

  • Abraham Martinez Bartolo serves as a bilingual translator volunteer at the vaccination clinic

  • Bartolo attends Eastern Kentucky University, studying Engineering 

Centro has been serving the needs of the Hispanic community in Lexington since November 2020, but founders Dot, Jim Bennett have dedicated 22 years to working in Hispanic ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Lexington. Centro is located in the Cardinal Valley neighborhood, which is home to 10,000 Hispanic immigrants.

Abraham Martinez Bartolo is just nineteen years old and using his Spanish speaking skills as the bilingual volunteer in charge of greeting people getting their vaccines at the Centro vaccination clinic. “Hello, how are you? Spanish or English?," Bartolo said while greeting clinic participants.

Members of the Hispanic community sit down after receiving their COVID-19 vaccination. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

“Growing up in the Hispanic community, I have witnessed [lack of translation] for my parents and family members," Bartolo said. "They have the barrier of not knowing, understanding medical workers or everyday life of not knowing they are being spoken to."

Bartolo knows first hand how crucial accurate translations can be, especially in a medical setting, which continues to inspire him to keep translating for his community. Sunday was his sixth time providing support at the Centro clinic.

“It is important for [translators] to be here because we can help these people reap the benefits of the things we are doing nowadays, it gives them equal opportunity. 'Stand here please, are you getting the Pfizer vaccine?' By translating a couple of phrases, or helping them out at a doctor's appointment, it helps out a lot,” Bartolo said.

Translators are essential for making his community feel comfortable while getting their vaccines. From translating for his parents to complete strangers, Bartolo doesn't want language to be a barrier for his people in the community, nor do the Centro organizers.

“It is kind of like paying it forward, trying to get them [translators] involved. Helping somebody else, that somebody else might be doing the same,” Bennett said.

The Eastern Kentucky University student is taking another Sunday to help out his community, but that's just a small part of how he wants to support his community. 

“I look at these people as if they are my own family because I know where they come from. I know how their situation is, I know how difficult it is to understand a language in a country that only speaks that one language. It is very important to me, I enjoy it alot when I am helping these people,” said Bartolo.

The next vaccination clinic at Centro de San Juan Diego will take place on Oct. 10.