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Hispanic Women's Organization of Arkansas (HWOA)

The Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas (HWOA) is a non-profit organization founded in July 1999 by a group of women, mostly Hispanic, concerned with the well-being of their families and their community. HWOA engages in activities that reflect the mission “to advance educational opportunities for Hispanic women and their families, to celebrate and teach others about our culture, and to become active participants in the community.” Through programs and events, the organization strives to increase participation by Hispanics in community activities, opening channels for better understanding across cultures and bringing the diverse northwest Arkansas community together.

HWOA arose in Springdale (Washington County) out of the need of the founding members to have a support system in their new adopted community. Most of the initial members were the only Hispanic women in their workplace. Attending the first meeting in July 1999 were Diana Worthen, a teacher from Rogers High School; Carol Rodriguez, a real estate agent; Margarita Solorzano, a parent educator; Anne Yancey, a business owner; Lucy Daniel, a teacher assistant; Diana Shiell, director of the multicultural center in Springdale; Virginia Vega, a community member; and Enid Pierce, a Spanish teacher. HWOA is open to men and women, and it is not necessary to speak Spanish or to be of Hispanic heritage in order to join. Though predominantly Hispanic, HWOA members come from many backgrounds, creeds, and cultures.

HWOA has worked to foster harmony across cultures. The organization’s programs and community events are based on respecting existing community traditions while introducing new elements of Hispanic cultures. HWOA collaborates with other organizations and educational institutions in organizing and promoting events such as the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration, cultural education workshops, and the annual HWOA Conference. Programs include the HWOA Scholarship Fund, GEM (Guiding, Empowering, and Mentoring), Hispanic Students for Wellness, a bilingual newcomers’ guide for the city of Springdale, voter registration campaigns, and the Arkansas Citizenship Coalition. These activities reflect the group’s motto of “Celebrating Education, Culture and Community.”

The success of HWOA programs and events also lies in its collaboration with local, state, and national organizations. In 2004, HWOA became the first affiliate in Arkansas of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest constituency-based national Hispanic organization in the United States. NCLR is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization established in 1968 to reduce poverty and discrimination and to improve life opportunities for all Hispanic nationality groups throughout the country. At the local level, HWOA collaborates with higher-education institutions, service providers, and community-based organizations such as the League of United Latin American Citizens and La Casa Health Network.

For additional information:
Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas. http://www.hwoa.org/ (accessed December 13, 2006).

Margarita Solorzano
Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas

Last Updated 8/7/2007

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