09/22/08 — Hispanic Community Development Center honors supporters

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Hispanic Community Development Center honors supporters

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 22, 2008 1:42 PM

The state's growing Hispanic population has changed the face of North Carolina, and the newcomers, like other residents, want the same thing, "to live the American dream," said Matty Lazo-Chadderton, the director for Hispanic and Latino Affairs for state Sen. Marc Basnight.

Ms. Lazo-Chadderton spoke at the fourth annual appreciation banquet held Saturday by the Wayne County Hispanic Community Development Center.

"We are part of the fabric and demographics of the state and a very active part in many different areas of the economy," she said. "We fill many occupations. And we are here in North Carolina to live the American dream not only for us, but for our children and grandchildren and not only for Hispanics but for every individual. The beauty in North Carolina is that we Hispanics and non-Hispanics work together with one common goal, the well-being of our community and state."

A native of Lima, Peru, Ms. Lazo-Chadderton said she likes the U.S. motto, "from many, one."

Her comments struck a cord with those attending the banquet, held at First Baptist Church.

"The purpose of the banquet is to thank the individuals and organizations who help us accomplish our missions during the year," said Willie Cartagena, the executive director of the center. "When we started, we were focusing on the betterment of the Hispanic population. However, we saw the need for the entire community, so we switched the mission from just helping Hispanics to helping the entire community."

Located at 309 Potts Road in Dudley, the center provides interpreters when Hispanics need one at the courthouse, schools and hospitals.

"Now we try to help prepare paperwork for immigration so they can become citizens," he said.

The center offers English classes and dental and health services. Two weeks ago, it started Spanish classes. It also is in the second year of a program to provide book bags for any needy elementary school students.

During the banquet, Cartagena announced plans for a downtown Goldsboro community-oriented festival for next May.

"We want everybody to come and enjoy themselves," he said. "There will be all kinds of music, Hispanic, jazz. One reason for doing this is to say thank you to Goldsboro for all the good things they are doing for our community, not only the Hispanics, but for the whole community."

"It is very good to be here tonight for the recognition of people in the community," Ms. Lazo-Chadderton said. "I am very proud of the work the Hispanic Community Develop-ment Center is doing. Also I wanted to share about the importance of the Hispanic community."

She called the appreciation banquet "a unique opportunity in that people come together for one thing in common and that is helping their communities."

"This is a great step, a great opportunity, and to take a break from the rush, rush, rush we are living -- taking the time to thank everyone, that motivates people to keep helping," she said. "When you give, you receive. No one is so strong that they do not need help.

"Also, it is important to get to know Hispanics in a personal way. Talk with us. Learn about each other's families."

She noted Hispanics come from many countries and are made up of many ethnic groups.

Ms. Lazo-Chadderton's father was in the Peruvian Air Force and her family lived in the U.S. from the time she was a year old until she was 3.

"He never recovered from being homesick about the United States," she said of her father. "He said the U.S. is the land where your dreams come true. All people want to live that dream."

Ms. Lazo-Chadderton lived in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic before moving to the U.S.

She returned to North Carolina because her oldest son, David, has autism, she said.

She said her son corrected her several years ago when she gave that explanation and said, "No Mama, our family came here for better opportunities."

"And it is true," she said. "Now, today he is in Washing-ton, D.C., lobbying Congress advocating for people with disabilities. That is the American dream. That is all that we want."

Ms. Lazo-Chadderton said that according to the Pew Hispanic Center there are 120,000 eligible Hispanic voters in the state.

Also, according to the UNC Kenan-Flager Business School, Hispanics have dramatically changed the makeup of the state's work force, she said.

"But what a great challenge North Carolina has in order to tap into that opportunity to boost the economy," she said.

According to school, the Hispanic community is contributing $9 billion to the economy of the state and there are more than 90 nonprofit Hispanic organizations.

The Hispanic community also is becoming more sophisticated about economics.

For example, there are the N.C. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce based in Raleigh, the Latino America Chamber of Commerce in Charlotte and the North Carolina Latino Community Credit Union with headquarters in Durham with six branches.

And more than 9,000 small businesses in the state are owned by Hispanics, she said.