Centro de San Juan Diego helps immigrants adjust to U.S.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Centro de San Juan Diego serves as a community center in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. 


What You Need To Know

  • Centro de San Juan Diego has been a Hispanic community center since 2020 
  • It offer over 50 services to mostly Hispanic immigrants looking to adjust to life in the U.S. 
  • All services including eye exams, counseling and English courses are free of charge 
  • The facility is within less than 20 minutes walking distance from 10,000 Hispanics

It sits in the middle of Lexington’s Cardinal Valley neighborhood and it stands out from the rest.

“There’s so much foot traffic here that we wanted people to walk by and get a text message from their brain that says this looks like something in my town in Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela.”

Centro de San Juan Diego Director and deacon Jim Bennett has lived in South America, Mexico and other countries. He says the main goal is to help immigrants, primarily Hispanics, adapt to life in America.

“People arrive here. They’re arriving into a different culture with a different language, so it’s difficult to communicate. Even the most fundamental things like well I want my children to go to school,” Bennett said.

Bennett is originally from Pittsburgh and understands feeling out of place in a different country. The Centro offers over 50 types of services, including counseling, English courses and faith related activities.

“There are various kinds of prayer services and prayer activities that are a very important part of this culture,” Bennett said.

It’s a 12,000 square foot facility within walking distance of a Hispanic community of 10,000 people. Another 30,000 people in surrounding communities can get to the center in less than an hour’s drive.

“We started visiting all these places and one day it dawned on us that we can run around and try go where these people are but that’s not very efficient,” Bennett said. “The easiest thing to do is build a community center in the middle of all this.”

The Centro hosts fresh food giveaways every month and a health fair as part of achieving their bigger goal.

“No matter what your background is and what language you speak; if you’re in need and your need intersects with our mission, mental health, physical health and moving toward independence we’re here for you pro bono, everything is free,” Bennett said.

Centro de San Juan Diego is open to anyone in need despite its mostly Hispanic roots.

They are open 11 hours every weekday and most weekends thanks to a new partnership with United Way of the Bluegrass.

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