Volume 164 | March 2, 2022
"A More Equitable and Inclusive Montgomery County"
County Executive Marc Elrich
During the month of March, as Montgomery County marks two years of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the County will highlight the sacrifices, dedication, and efforts of individuals and partners in the community as we continue to move forward. Read more.
Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center
On-site Offices Reopen
The Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center will reopen its on-site offices after having closed during the surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant. Starting March 7, 2022, the Center will accept walk-ins at each of its sites in Wheaton, Gaithersburg, and East County, and will continue to take calls through its Information and Referral line (240-777-4940).

Classes Spark Student Success

Classes continue to be successful--all Winter 2022 classes are full! Stay tuned for more information on upcoming Spring 2022 classes. This month, a former student in the Citizenship Preparation class emailed his teacher to thank him and share the exciting news that he had passed the naturalization interview and test, and was getting ready for the Oath ceremony. He noted “I really appreciate this type of classes are given to our community, Montgomery County is a great County to live in...Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.” There is no better reward than unsolicited feedback from students. Special thanks to the teachers who make it all happen.

Job Opportunity

The Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center is hiring an Office Assistant. To view position details, click here. Please share with your networks!
Volunteer Center
New Program Manager

Faith McNeill is the new Program Manager for the Montgomery County Volunteer Center. With more than 10 years of professional experience working with local communities and non-profits, Faith understands the power of people and how important it is to connect, build, and empower others. In Montgomery County, Faith has worked with the Montgomery County Conservation Corps and the Latin American Youth Center where she led efforts to provide meaningful workforce development opportunities and wrap around services to Montgomery County youth. Learn more about Faith here.
Nominate Volunteers for Top County Awards

Nominations are now open for the Montgomery Serves Awards, our County's highest honor for volunteer service. This prestigious annual awards program is coordinated by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center and recognizes volunteer efforts in the following categories:
To nominate deserving volunteers, complete the appropriate online nomination forms linked above no later than Friday, March 11 at 5:00 pm.
Immigration, Citizenship & Legal Services
Free Citizenship Preparation Classes at the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center

The Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center offers free Citizenship Preparation classes for people living in Montgomery County, ages 18 and older. Learn U.S. history and civics, improve your English reading, writing, and speaking to prepare for the citizenship interview. The classes are currently online. To register, please click here to find more information and to register.

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. You must be a lawful permanent resident to apply. Please call the APALRC Helpline at (202) 393-3572 and request assistance. To learn more about the program, please visit the APALRC website. Assistance is available in many languages including Chinese, Korean, and Urdu. Note: When Montgomery County guidelines allow, APALRC also will be holding in-person meetings at the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center in Gaithersburg on a bi-monthly basis.

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.

Representing Children and Families in Immigration Matters

The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Immigration and the ABA Children’s Immigration Law Academy (CILA) will hold a complimentary training providing an overview of working with children and families in immigration cases.
March 3, 2022, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Click here for information and registration.

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Baltimore

Quick Topics Training - SIJS-Based I-485s and Inadmissibility
Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Noon -1:00 pm
Click here for information and registration. Deadline: Monday, March 14.

Introductory Training - Representing Children in Immigration Matters
Thursday, March 17, 2022, 9:00 am -11:00 am
Click here for information and registration. Deadline: Friday, March 11

Representing Children and Families in Immigration Matters

The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Immigration and the ABA Children’s Immigration Law Academy (CILA) will hold a complimentary training providing an overview of working with children and families in immigration cases.
March 3, 2022, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Click here for information and registration.


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 March 10, 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 meet virtually on March 15 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. If you would like to attend, please email Mr. Yi Shen at

Caribbean American Advisory Group met on Tuesday, March 1st. For more information. please contact Rodrigue Vital, Caribbean American Liaison, Rodrigue.vital@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Faith Community Advisory Group will meet on Monday, March 7th at 7:00 pm. Several prospective FCAG members will be joining the meeting. For more information email Kate Chance at kate.chance@montgomerycountymd.gov

LGBTQ Advisory Group will meet on March 14th from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. The meeting will be held on Zoom. Click here for link. For more information, contact amena.johnson@montgomerycountymd.gov.

Middle Eastern American Advisory Group will meet on Wednesday, March 9th, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. For more information, please contact the OCP Middle Eastern American Community Liaison.
African American Community
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History Month Celebration
On February 18, 2022, the County Executive and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute and Celebration Planning Committee hosted its annual county-wide MLK/Black History Month Celebration at the Music Center at Strathmore.

The theme was "“Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things for the Fight for Freedom," honoring local civil rights road warriors like Mary Williams Betters, Rev. James Macdonell, Leroy Warren and Bette Thompson. Reenactor performances of Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, Harry Belafonte and others were enjoyed by the in-person and virtual crowd.
Asian Pacific American Community
County Celebrates Lunar New Year

County Executive Marc Elrich kicked off Lunar New Year on February 1 in a Zoom event with community members. Mr. Elrich presented a proclamation recognizing the Asian community's many contributions to the economic, cultural, and civic growth of Montgomery County.
Celebrations Hosted by CCACC

The Chinese Culture and Community Services Center (CCACC) held Lunar New Year celebrations at the Westfield Montgomery Mall on January 29, February 5 and February 12 in order to celebrate safely with smaller crowds. County Executive Marc Elrich attended the celebration on February 5. Attendees were treated to a lion/dragon dance and cultural performances.
Rockville Lantern Festival

The Rockville Lantern Festival, marking the end of Lunar New Year celebrations, was held on February 11 at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre. The Festival featured food, cultural displays and cultural performances. The Festival was co-hosted by the Rockville Sister City Corporation, WQER Radio and the Chinese Culture Institute. Guests included County Executive Marc Elrich.
Caribbean American Community
Black History Month Brings Groups Together
In celebration of Black History Month, the African Affairs Advisory Group invited the Caribbean and African American Advisory Groups to their monthly meeting on February 10 to reflect on the common issues Blacks face in the County. The Jamaican representatives of CAAG urged attendees to support their petition to President Biden to exonerate former Jamaican national hero, Marcus Garvey, of his mail fraud conviction in the United States during the 1920s. A total of 100,000 signatories are being sought for the petition, which may be accessed at https://bit.ly/exonerategarvey
Middle Eastern American Community
Annual Retreat

A video recording of the January 22nd retreat featuring County Executive Marc Elrich is now available on MEAAG’s YouTube channel.

Middle Eastern American Heritage Month

Several events are planned, including a display at the Rockville Library and a proclamation ceremony (tentatively scheduled for March 19th, 10:00 am to 10:45 am). Please contact the Middle Eastern Liaison to register and receive the Zoom link. Also pending is the resumption of MEAAG’s in-person Heritage Month outdoor celebration in the latter half of May. Check MEAAG's Facebook page for updates.

Ramadan Proclamation

MEAAG’s second annual Ramadan Proclamation ceremony will be held virtually the week prior to the April 2nd start of the month of Ramadan. This intergenerational event will focus on the common cultural and faith traditions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity and will include County officials and expert speakers. Email the Middle Eastern Liaison for details.

Voter Education Initiative

The VEI, an active MEAAG team led by MEAAG member Sahar Fahmy, continues to help educate the community about the importance of voting by connecting different communities with Montgomery County voting resources and facilities. Stay current through MEAAG's Facebook page or the Board of Elections website.

Author Conversations

MEAAG/Baltimore Luxor Alexandria Sister City Committee will launch "Stories to Broaden Undertanding" in conjunction with Montgomery County Public Libraries. On April 19 from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Eman Quotah, a Saudi American, will discuss her first novel, Bride of the Sea. It was named the best debut novel of 2021 by Booklist, while The Washington Post described it as a “nuanced view of the Saudi kingdom through a cast of compelling characters and a sweeping plot that spans continents and decades.”

Check the MCPL events page soon to register for this free virtual conversation. “Stories to Broaden Understanding” will continue on May 10th, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm, with Ruby Namdar, of Iranian-Jewish heritage, discussing The Ruined House and on June 14th, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm, with Laila el-Haddad, on The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey (2021 edition).
Faith Community
March Holidays and Days of Interest

Maha Shivratri, March 1 | Ash Wednesday, March 2 | Losar, March 3 | Purim, March 16-17| Chotrul Duchen, March 18 | Holi, March 18-19 | Norouz (Nowruz), March 21-22 |
Kuan Yin (Avalokitesvara) Birthday, March 21 

Faith Community Town Hall

The Faith Community Advisory Group will be hosting a Faith Community Town Hall on March 15th at 7:00 pm with EveryMind to learn more about resources available for mental health related concerns. Register in advance here. Flyer is available here.

Recognizing Faith Community Contributions During COVID-19

The Faith Community Advisory Group will hold a virtual event on March 21at 7:00 pm to thank the faith community for their efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Register in advance here.

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.

Tenant Information Sessions

Housing Initiative Partership, Inc. holds Zoom sessions on Tuesdays at 7:00 pm, Click here for more information,

Advisory Group Updates

  • On February 2nd the Resettlement Working Group met to discuss the ongoing Afghan resettlement. Email kate.chance@montgomerycountymd.gov for information about future meetings and subcommittees.

  • On February 7th the Faith Community Advisory Group hosted a public meeting to learn more about Montgomery Thrive 2050. View a recording of the meeting here.

  • On February 15th the Faith Community Advisory Group hosted a townhall event partnering with the non-profit Identity. View a recording of the video here.
News & Events Around the Region
Click Links for Details

Best Practices Roundtable Event at Main Street Connect -- conversation about best practices and common hurdles in inclusion, accessibility and Universal Design; March 3rd, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, 50 Monroe Pl, Rockville, MD 20850.

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.

Share Your News
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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