Our Town Crete: Embracing Diversity

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 12:27 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Crete Community Assistance Office is helping newcomers feel welcome, and have success in finding jobs and community resources.

Because of the wide variety of industries in Crete, a wide variety of people call the community home. “Our minority population is approaching 40 percent,” Crete City Administrator Tom Ourada said. “I think the last that I heard there were over 20 languages spoken.” For that reason, Ourada says Crete has made an effort to help people of all cultural backgrounds. “In 2015, the mayor at the time, Roger Foster, asked me to go to a national conference in New York City.” At the conference, Ourada discovered how large cities were making sure that newcomers to a community could feel welcome. “So we went to the council with the notion of creating the community assistance office, or the diversity office,” Ourada said. At the time, community members weighed in on how the office should function. After great success early on, the office continues to meet the needs of residents with Director Nancy Tellez. “This person brings people into the office that are new to the community, no matter what their background, and she specializes in immigrants and minorities, people new to the community,” Ourada said.

Tellez is beloved to many, because she helps people who may not speak English do everything from fill out job applications to finding community resources. “So for example, if I have a family that is needing assistance with a medical bill, I can help them with filling out a financial assistance application, and direct them to other organizations that could further help them,” Tellez said. “Another big part of what I do is help clients with other city departments. For example, I get clients that need help with a building permit application. I help make the connection between them and the building inspector.” Tellez says even people from other towns have come to the office for help. “I’ve had multiple clients come to the office needing help with paperwork they received from school, and once they are here, they ask to talk about the job opportunities,” Tellez said. “Then I’ve had clients that actually move to Crete because of the opportunities that are offered here.”

Crete resident Juliana Ho is one of many people who received valuable help from Nancy Crete Community Assistance office. “Before I came here from Florida, I called her so many times, asking her about a life here in Crete,” Ho said. Juliana was looking for a change of pace, with fewer crowds. Tellez promoted Crete as a place to find the Good Life, and helped Juliana fit in, and find a job. “When people need help with an application, you know everything now is with phone and internet,” Ho said. “Some people don’t have the phone, or don’t know how to do it, because sometimes it’s a little bit complicated. (Tellez) does it for everybody. She always is there.” You could say that the office of diversity in Crete is making the Good Life even better. “We are very grateful that we have this office here,” Ho said. This all shows that Crete is not shying away from its diverse population. “We think that our diversity is a secret weapon,” Ourada said. “We feel that it’s a strength, and we leverage that.” And residents will continue to seek the help of Nancy Tellez in the community’s office of diversity. “She does a fantastic job, let me tell you,” Ho said.

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