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2010 Census Road Tour Focuses On Latino And Somali Communities.

The 2010 Census Road Tour is crossing the Buckeye state to inform Latino and Somali communities how important it is to be counted this year.

La Plaza Tapatia on the West side attracted close to 100 people from both the Latino and Somali communities in Central Ohio.

Community leaders like Lilly Cavanaugh encouraged the group to fill out the census forms which will be sent out in March.

"Using this information for the Latino grass roots organization is important when they're applying for grants and for funding resources from different organizations because they always want to have information as to how many Latinos are there in the different communities and who are they." Cavanaugh says.

Cavanaugh admits some Latinos are fearful of what the census count means.

"They may fear that the information will not be kept confidential so you know some people may fear is this going to be reported to immigration. They may fear the number of people that are living in the homes." Cavanaugh says.

28 year old Jessenia Catalan is a waitress. She came from El Salvador 3 years ago to work. Her two children are back home with her mom and dad. Catalan says she wants to know more about the census. As she spoke to us, census worker Josue Vicente interpreted.

"In Spanish .At this moment she doesn't have enough information about the census. She knows it's important but she would like to have more information on what is the census about and how that will be affecting her and the community." Vicente says.

Vicente and others say every year 400 billion dollars of federal money is put back into community programs. The census count determines funding for schools, roads, hospitals, job training, child care and senior citizens centers.

"I think our task is not for those of us to make sure they fill out the form, but make sure you advocate and make sure that everybody knows about the census."

U.S. Census partnership specialist, Mussa Farrah says the Somali community was left out of previous efforts.

"There have not been not many outreach I think within the Somali community. They never knew the value how why it is important that people are being counted." Farrah says.

21 year old Kamal Osman from Somalia is a college student who also works part time. 2010 will be his first census. He says he is not here to just get government help.

"When I talk about myself first year I wasn't working, but the second year I was working. I don't take anything from the government as far as that. I don't even get any financial aid from the government for my college right now. So, there are the people who work hard and there are the people who doesn't know the language." Osman says.

Columbus is said to have the country's second largest population of Somali immigrants, but exactly how many people that includes is not known. The census count should help both Somali and Latino communities.

The 2010 census road tour continues to spread the word.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.