Volume 165 | April 1, 2022
"A More Equitable and Inclusive Montgomery County"
County Executive Marc Elrich
Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center
Citizenship Preparation
Registration for free online citizenship preparation classes is open! Classes meet once per week for ten weeks and prepare students for the citizenship test and the interview. For more information on how to register, click here.

English Classes

Registration for English classes starts on April 4 at noon. Registration is open until classes are filled. Evening and Saturday classes will be are available online. Don’t miss out! Classes fill up very quickly. See flyer for information on how to register. English Conversation classes are also available year round, and require no registration. More information is available here.

Basic Computer Classes

Registration for basic computer classes will open on April 14. These classes introduce students to basic Microsoft Excel, Word, Google Suite, email, and more! Check the website to stay updated on upcoming registration dates. For information on services offered in the County, call the Gilchrist Center at 240-777-4940 or visit one of its locations. Offices are open.

Farewell to Carla Ayala

The Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to Carla Ayala, Program Assistant at the Gaithersburg site, who is leaving the Center this month. Carla started working for the Center in 2015. Thanks to her indefatigable commitment to helping others, she has impacted many lives, as illustrated by a client’s recent testimony: “Carla is empathetic, professional, connects very well with clients and goes the extra mile to help us. I really thank you and appreciate her service and work ethics...Carla make me feel important, helped. She deserves recognition and she made my Monday!” On behalf of the whole team, thank you, Carla!
Volunteer Center
Global Volunteer Month

Global Volunteer Month in April celebrates the impact volunteers have on our lives and encourages active volunteerism in generations to come. The Volunteer Center is uniquely positioned to appreciate the contributions that Montgomery County residents make by dedicating their time and talent as volunteers. The Volunteer Center database has almost 43,000 registered users and lists 1472 agencies who rely on volunteers to advance their mission!

Our county's volunteers generously donate a part of their lives to help the community in meaningful ways — preparing food for the homeless, helping with stream cleanups, mentoring students, fostering shelter dogs, and much more. Explore the Volunteer Center website to see how you can make a difference.
AARP Tax-Aide Program
  • Free tax preparation assistance during tax season with special attention to seniors age 60+
  • By appointment only
Immigration, Citizenship & Legal Services
Free Citizenship Preparation Classes at the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center

The Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center offers free Citizenship Preparation classes online. Registration for the spring semester is now currently open! Click here for information on how to apply.

Free Citizenship Application Consultations by APALRC

The Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC) provides free legal assistance to individuals seeking to become U.S. citizens. Assistance is available in many languages including Chinese, Korean, and Urdu. You must be a lawful permanent resident to apply. Please call the APALRC Helpline at (202) 393-3572 to request assistance. To learn more about the program, please visit the APALRC website. Beginning April 7, 2022, APALRC also will be holding in-person meetings at the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center in Gaithersburg on a bi-monthly basis, Thursdays from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Meetings are by appointment only. You must be pre-registered. Please complete this form if you are interested.

Legal Services

The Maryland Bar Foundation's Pro Bono Program provides free one-on-one telephone consultations with attorneys for low-income county residents in civil cases. Click here for more information. In addition, the program is moving forward with a collaborative effort with immigration attorney Rachel Ullman to address SIJS cases. Clients must meet ALL criteria to be eligible. Please refer potential clients to their main line at 301-424-7651. Flyers are available in English and Spanish.

HIAS Asylee Outreach Project offers free help connecting Maryland asylees (and T visa holders) with the resettlement resources and benefits available to them in the state of Maryland. Click here for more information.

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Baltimore

Quick Topics Training - All about EADs
Wednesday, April 13, 2022, Noon -1:00 pm
Click here for information and registration. Deadline: Monday, April 11.

Introductory Training - Representing Children in Immigration Matters
Thursday, April 21, 2022, 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Click here for information and registration. Deadline: Friday, April 15


FIRN Inc., a Department of Justice (DOJ) accredited non-profit organization located in Columbia, Maryland, is currently accepting intakes for individuals residing in Montgomery County who need representation in their removal proceedings. Click here for more information.

Language Access Services for Crime Victims

The Language Access Program at Ayuda provides professionally trained, trauma-informed interpreters at no cost. Please email interpreterbank@ayuda.com with "Maryland Victims" in the subject heading to learn more and to add your organization to the list of those that will receive services.

Financial Assistance for Citizenship Application Fees offered by CASA

CASA, in partnership with Montgomery County, is offering financial assistance to those who are eligible to apply for citizenship but cannot afford the application fee. Click here for more information.
Advisory Group Meetings
Upcoming Meetings of County Executive's Ethnic & Faith Advisory Groups
African Affairs Advisory Group meets every second Thursday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday April 14 at 7:00 pm. To register for this meeting, please click here. For more information email Harrieta.Shangarai@Montgomerycountymd.gov.

Asian Pacific American Advisory Group will not meet in April and will reconvene in May. For more information, please email Mr. Yi Shen at

Caribbean American Advisory Group will meet on April 5 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. The meeting will be virtual. For more information about this meeting and CAAG, please contact Rodrigue Vital, Caribbean American Liaison, Rodrigue.vital@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Faith Community Advisory Group will meet on April 11 at 7:30 pm. For more information email Kate Chance at kate.chance@montgomerycountymd.gov

Latin American Advisory Group will meet virtually on Tuesday, April 12. The group will continue to learn more about best practice programs and initiatives created in response to the pandemic that have positively impacted the lives of Latino families in Montgomery County. Please email Jessy Mejia Terry for links to the meeting. Open to the public.

LGBTQ Advisory Group will meet on April 11 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. The meeting will be held on Zoom. Click here for link. For more information, please contact

Middle Eastern American Advisory Group will meet on Tuesday, April 12, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm. For more information, please contact the OCP Middle Eastern American Community Liaison.
African Community
New African Film Festival 2022
From March 18th to 31st, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, in collaboration with the Africa World Now Project, will present the New African Film Festival (NAFF), showcasing the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the continent and across the diaspora. This year's fully in-person festival at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center features 28 films from 17 countries, including five U.S. or North American premieres. Click here for details.

Women's History Month

On March 27th, the Ethiopian Community Center in Maryland celebrated Women’s History Month by hosting an Ethiopian Women’s Event at Montgomery College.The full day event included free health screening and education along with a job fair, training opportunities, resources, information sharing and entertainment.
African American Community
Maryland Civil Rights Educational Freedom Experience
From April 29 to May 7, immerse yourself in a life changing journey as you retrace the Freedom Trail and explore the Civil Rights Movement. Learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Greensboro SitIns, Voting Rights, Emmitt Till and other significant events of the American Civil Rights Movement. Click here for flyer and registration details.
Asian Pacific American Community
Chinese Alumni Association Inaugurates New President

County Executive Marc Elrich attended the Inauguration of the 26th President of the Chinese Alumni Association of Greater Washington (CAAGW) on March 12. The County Executive presented a citation to outgoing president, Dr. Min Li, and congratulated the first woman president of CAAGW, Dr. Ping Lu.

Asian Pacific Island Desi American (APIDA) Studies Program

During the rise of hate crimes against Asians last year, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) held several dialogues with Asian students. As a result, MCPS will pilot an Asian Pacific Island Desi American (APIDA) Studies program. The APIDA Studies elective class will be offered in the fall semester of 2022 in three high schools: Clarksburg, Richard Montgomery and Paint Branch. READ MORE.

Poster Art Contest - Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

A Poster Art Contest for students K-12 is being sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Student Achievement Action Group (APASAAG), the Chinese American Parents Association of Montgomery County (CAPA-MC), Chinese Cultural and Community Service (CCACC), Calvin Li Memorial Foundation, Lead For Future Academy, Association of Vietnamese Americans (AVA), and the Montgomery County Progressive Asian American Network (MoCoPAAN). Submission deadline is April 20. Click here for flyer. Additional details are here.
Caribbean American Community
Caribbean Faith Leaders Represented at County Event
The Rev. David Faustin, Senior Pastor at Bread of Life Bible Fellowship (BLBF), represented Caribbean faith leaders at the County’s virtual event on March 21 that highlighted the efforts of individuals and partners during the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. In his remarks, Rev. Faustin thanked County leaders and staff and said that he will continue to work with the Caribbean American Advisory Group on future
projects. Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and Council President Gabe Albornoz were on hand to thank the leaders for their contributions.
Latin American Community
Bienvenidos Initiative
The Bienvenidos Initiative is a coordinated team of County, community, and school partners working together to proactively link newly arrived immigrant and asylum-seeking children and families or their sponsors with existing services and resources available to the public in Montgomery County. As part of its mission to facilitate access to those services and resources, the Bienvenidos Initiative is also leveraging its collaborative efforts to explore further areas of need that may support a newcomer’s community integration.

The Initiative recently began working with its newly-created Youth Workforce Development Workgroup to make recommendations and provide more educational and career-readiness options to high school-age youth and young adults.

The Initiative continues to work on the launch of its upcoming website. More details to follow.
Middle Eastern American Community
Arab American Heritage Month Proclamation
MEAAG cordially invites you to attend the Joint Arab American Heritage Month Proclamation presentation by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Gabe Albornoz on April 5 at 9:00 am in the Montgomery County Council Chamber (100 Maryland Ave., 3rd Floor, Rockville, MD 20850).  Please make sure to arrive at the Council Building by 8:45 am. Please confirm your participation by COB Monday, April 4 by sending an email with your name and phone number to the Middle Eastern liaison or call (240) 432-8319. 
International Women's Day
To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, MEAAG member Shahrzad Nakhosti created an image to honor all the women around the world who have continued to provide healing and promote hope as caregivers and front line workers during the pandemic.
March Meeting Update

On March 9, MEAAG convened its monthly public meeting. The Middle Eastern Liaison shared information about the Office of Community Partnerships activities, and MEAAG members provided updates about previous and upcoming activities. On March 15, a group of MEAAG members met for a second subcommittee hybrid meeting, with an outdoor dinner gathering, to discuss the in-person Middle Eastern American Heritage Month celebration to be held on May 14th. A huge thank you to MEAAG member Karim Chaibi for hosting the meeting at his home.
Middle Eastern American Heritage Month (MEAHM)

On March 19, MEAAG organized a virtual proclamation event at which County Executive Marc Elrich proclaimed March 2022 as Middle Eastern American Heritage Month. Please visit MEAAG’s YouTube Channel to view Mr. Elrich’s remarks. MEAHM also was celebrated with a display in the lobby of the Rockville Memorial Library. (See photo at left).

MEAAG is planning an in-person event on May 14 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Executive Office Building Cafeteria to celebrate MEAHM for the first time since 2019. For more information please contact the OCP’s Middle Eastern Liaison.

Nowruz Celebration

To celebrate the Persian new year, a group of MEAAG members attended a Nowruz Festival.

Author Conversations

In collaboration with the Montgomery County Public Libraries, MEAAG's third series of virtual book talks will be held this spring. “Stories to Broaden Understanding” launches on April 19 with Bride of the Sea, the acclaimed first novel of Eman Quotah. Register for this free event here. Register here for the conversation with Ruby Namdar about The Ruined House on May 10, and here to engage with Laila el-Haddad about her latest work, The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey on June 14.

Voter Education Initiative (VEI)

During Ramadan, the VEI team is planning to participate in Iftar events with Muslim communities to continue its mission of connecting our community with voting resources and facilities in Montgomery County The VEI social media team also will be starting its first digital marketing campaign, “Vote By All Languages.” Stay tuned and follow MEAAG on Facebook.
Faith Community
April Holidays and Days of Interest

Ugadi, April 1-2 | Ramadan, April 2-May 1 | Ram Navami, April 10 | Holy (Maundy) Thursday April 14| Vaisakhi, April 14 | Passover, April 15-23 | Good Friday, April 15 |
Theravada New Year, April 16 |  Hanuman Jayanti, April 16 | Easter, April 17 | Festival of Ridvan, April 19-May 1 | Orthodox Holy Thursday, April 21 | Orthodox Good Friday, April 22 | Orthodox Easter, April 24 | Yom Ha'Shoah, April 27-28

Faith Community Town Halls

The Faith Community Advisory will host a town hall event partnering with Montgomery County Food Council on Tuesday April 5 at 7:00 pm. See the flyer and register here.

The Faith Community Advisory will host a town hall event on building affordable housing on house of worship property and discussing other affordable housing concerns in Montgomery County on Tuesday, April 19 at 7:00 pm. Register in advance here.

Ramadan Iftar Invitation

County Executive Marc Elrich, in partnership with Montgomery County Muslim Foundation and Montgomery County Muslim Council, cordially invites you to the Annual Ramadan Iftar on April 21 from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville. Register here to attend.

Security Grant Program Technical Assistance Webinar

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Grant Programs Directorate (GPD), in partnership with the DHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), invites faith-based, community, and nonprofit organizations to participate in a webinar regarding the fiscal year 2022 Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). April 1, 2022, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Click here for more information.

Co-sponsors Needed for Refugee Resettlement

Do you want to make a difference and ensure that your community is welcoming to newcomers? Consider partnering with ECDC and co-sponsoring a refugee
family! Help refugees achieve economic self-sufficiency through employment and linkages to service providers. Click here for details.

Update - March Events
On March 29, the Office of Community Partnerships, working with the Middle Eastern American and Faith Community Advisory Groups, organized a Joint Ramadan Proclamation Presentation by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Gabe Albornoz in the Montgomery County Council Chamber. Over 40 Muslim community members attended this event, which took place a few days before the beginning of Ramada. Saba Rashid, President of the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation, delivered remarks and accepted the proclamation alongside other Muslim community members.

On March 25, the County Executive attended a food distribution for Afghan newcomers hosted by Nourishing Bethesda. Rev. Anne Derse, a member of the Faith Community Advisory Group, is a lead organizer of this weekly food distribution benefiting over forty families awaiting permanent housing.

On March 21, the County Executive and County Council President Gabe Albornoz joined an event honoring the faith community for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic as a part of the COVID Memorial Month being hosted by the County. Around 60 attendees attended and shared their stories of supporting the community during the pandemic.

On March 18, the County Executive spoke at the International Church Ushers Association of DC & Vicinity annual meeting. He welcomed the organization to the County and thanked them for all they have done for the community during the pandemic.

On March 18, the County Executive spoke at the Haneefiya America Nisf Shahban Celebration. He thanked the community for their efforts during the pandemic and gave brief updates on the budget and other County matters.

On March 15, the County Executive attended the weekly Vaccine Mobile/place-based Distribution Partnership Discussion. He thanked the faith and community leaders who have been continuously providing services to those in need throughout the pandemic.
News & Events Around the Region
Click Links for Details

Financial Assistance for Homeowners Impacted by COVID -- The Maryland Homeowner Assistance Fund is now open to provide grants or loans for delinquent mortgage payments, past due association fees, past due real estate taxes, repairs, and energy efficiency improvements. Eligibility is based on income and COVID impact; owner occupancy is required. To learn more, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/homeowners.

Manna Food Center will hold this year's Heroes Against Hunger Award Ceremony on April 27 at VisArts’ rooftop in Rockville. Click here for tickets and sponsorships.

Leadership Montgomery is accepting applications for the 2022-23 Leadership Programs: CORE, Emerging Leaders and Senior Leadership Montgomery. Click here for flyer.

Lifelong Learning Courses -- Registration is open for Montgomery College Lifelong Learning Institute Non-Credit Courses. Offering Zoom and on-campus classes! 35 new classes are being offered in Spring 2022. Click here for registration information.

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We Want to Hear From You!
To submit your news and events of interest to those serving Montgomery County's emerging communities and neighbors in need, email complete details and/or a news release to the OCP Newsletter.

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