Something as simple as turning on a computer, responding to an email or using a computer mouse can be a challenge for some in the Latino community. Oftentimes, they don’t have access to the necessary technology to learn the skills many take for granted.
That’s one of the reasons Vanesa Sarazua started Hispanic Alliance GA just under a year ago. The nonprofit organization focuses on the education, health, legal immigration status and financial stability of the Latino population in Hall County. Now, with the help of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and the $8,000 literacy grant it just awarded Hispanic Alliance GA, Sarazua can help.
“We are going to invest some of it in technology, purchasing technology and having that available in our office,” Sarazua said of one of the largest grants the organization has received. “Our population doesn’t have access to technology, so we’re eager to provide that for them. … I think it will help with job placement and searches, so it will help them in many, many ways.”
She said she’s had many community members tell her they don’t know how to do those simple things when it comes to technology.
“Some of them might be left behind or not considered for positions because they're not (technologically) literate,” Sarazua said. “So we want to help our community be prepared to take on those different tasks.”
Even poultry plants, which employ many Latinos, are using more technology, Sarazua said. So the alliance, known in Spanish as La Alianza, wants to be able to help Latinos in Hall be prepared and able to perform those jobs and get paid an acceptable wage.
The grant will also go toward English classes the organization will be starting in June. The goal is to teach conversational English, so immigrants “don’t feel intimidated” when they are interacting with people around town. She said there are a lot of reasons for Latino community members to be eager to learn English.
She said one person told her she wants to communicate with cashiers better, enabling her to more easily use her coupons. Another said he wants to work alongside and communicate with his co-workers better, while another simply wants to run his business more efficiently.
Hispanic Alliance GA is partnering with teachers at Lanier Technical College to provide the classes.
“What we hope will happen with the teachers is they will incorporate the technology into the lessons,” Sarazua said. “So they can use that as part of listening how to pronounce, or just use different resources that are available online and not available in the home.”
Over the past year, Sarazua said Hispanic Alliance GA has gotten some positive feedback. People in the community seem to appreciate the work it is doing and the fact that it’s a nonprofit specifically geared toward their needs.
“A lot of people are really excited about our English classes and having an organization that advocates for them that is not tied to any political or religious affiliation,” Sarazua said.
She said companies like Dollar General, Wells Fargo and Kroger, which believe in the alliance’s mission, make the work possible. Each one, along with many others, has contributed to the organization.
“Of course I’m very grateful, but it also just rings true to me that Dollar General recognizes the needs that our Hispanic community has,” Sarazua said. “And I’m just very thankful that the literacy grant exists for community members such as the ones we have in Hall County.”