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News and Press: National News

Phiota "does good"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alberto Elvira
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Doing Good: Hispanic Women's Organization of Arkansas

After high school Rafael Arciga wanted to go to college, but needed some help. He applied for - and received - a scholarship from the Hispanic Women's Organization of Arkansas.

"It was motivation," he said. "Besides helping me pay for my studies and books, it was knowing that people in the community wanted someone to advance with education."

The group aims at several goals - one being to offer information on educational opportunities - and scholarships - for Hispanic women and their families.

"The Latino community does not have a lot of places to go to find information, so our organization is providing a service that is needed," said Executive Director Margarita Solorazano.

The HWOA also helps its members become active in the Northwest Arkansas community - like Rafael. Not only did he receive a degree with the help of the Hispanic Women's Organization - he now teaches computer courses there - and is on the group's board.

"It is basically letting people know that you have someone to rely on, and someone that is going to guide you through whatever it is that you need," he said.

HWOA guides people through learning the English language, obtaining citizenship, and voting. Rafael said that immigrants learning something as simple as using a computer can change their lives.

"Telling them you can contact your families, put computer skills in (their) resume, or a student getting a scholarship for his dream of becoming someone - it is empowerment," he said.

Members of HWOA educate immigrants moving to the area about Northwest Arkansas - but also aim to teach local citizens about its culture through a yearly Cinco De Mayo celebration, and an annual conference.

"It is important for us to educate the Latino community about what is available in regards to services, but also to educate the community about the Latino culture and issues," Solonrazano said.

The Hispanic Women's Organization of Arkansas served 10,000 people like Rafael last year - some, who like him - will turn around and help others new to Northwest Arkansas build better lives.

For more information on HWOA, go to:

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