In 2012, the Office forged a partnership with the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), the largest public housing authority in New England. The partnership has provided BHCC’s English Language Learner students volunteer opportunities as interpreters for BHA residents through BHA’s Volunteer Interpreters Program (VIP).
To date, 105 BHCC students have provided translation and interpretation services on 297 occasions, rendering more than 500 hours of volunteer service to BHA tenants. Students volunteer during eligibility housing interviews, administrative appeals, walk-ins, and residents’ meetings. As the partnership between BHCC and VIP grows and deepens, it also continues to be mutually transformational: BHCC students evolve into genuinely committed, caring citizens and civic leaders, at the same time that VIP is able to increase accessibility to affordable housing for more residents in the Commonwealth. In June of 2015, the partnership was awarded by Massachusetts Service Alliance with the Higher Education Community Partnership Innovator Award.
VIP Volunteers can greatly help build BHA’s language resources which now include 30 languages! Volunteer interpreters may assist in person or over the phone, at BHA eligibility interviews, community meetings, administrative appeals, public hearings, etc. Prospective volunteers must attend a training session.