2.6 min readPublished On: April 1, 2023

Hispanics of Lake County Association speaks language of empowerment

“We want to break the barrier and make everyone feel included.”

—Dr. Roland Nunez

Doctor Roland Nunez never dreamed he’d come up empty handed when he tried to post a job opening for a bilingual Spanish speaking person from the community. After all, an estimated 57,000 Hispanics (that’s nearly 16% of the population) call Lake County home.

Roland, who was serving as director of educational opportunity programs at Lake-Sumter State College at the time, discovered there was no network to connect the Spanish-speaking community.

“We saw a lot of ‘help wanted’ signs, and we wanted to get these Spanish-speaking individuals connected to the right resources and help give them the skills they need,” Roland says. 

He promptly got working with some of his peers to fill the void.

The collaboration produced Hispanics of Lake County Association, a non-profit that was chartered in August 2022. 

The organization serves as the resource center for Hispanics in Lake County through workforce development, humanitarian outreach and multicultural awareness.

Here’s how Hispanics of Lake County intends to reach its three primary goals:

The organization is countywide, with members representing the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Brazil.

“We want to break the barrier and make everyone feel included,” Roland says. “We will offer English classes and Spanish classes for English-to-Spanish learners. Our goal is not just to serve the Hispanic community, but to connect everyone and encourage employers to get involved all over the county.”

The organization has held several events, including a kick-off affair in Groveland and a bilingual college and career fair in Leesburg. A breakfast series is planned that will highlight various business owners and leaders in the community. 

Hispanics of Lake County Association’s five-year plan to grow the organization includes building a center where people can get connected to resources they need. The center will also house a consignment shop offering authentic goods from other countries.

“Our board is excited, and we have reached out to people who have a passion for making a difference,” Roland says. “We are looking for people who can roll up their sleeves and help out and share the message.”

To learn more, visit https://holca.net.   

Photos courtesy of Hispanics of Lake County Association

About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Cindy Peterson
Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography and video editing. She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and is a correspondent for The Daily Commercial, LakeFront TV and Beacon College’s PBS talk show, “A World of Difference,” where she received an Anthem Award and Telly Award. When she isn’t working, Cindy spends time with her husband, Ryan, and son, David, traveling and taking photos of landscapes and wildlife.

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