HOLA provides Hispanic presence in the village
In the Spanish language, “Hola” is a greeting used to attract attention or shout encouragement. In Garden City, HOLA stands for Hispanic Organization for Latin Awareness. In operation since 2004, 32 families currently make up HOLA’s membership. The non-profit’s mission is to unite families who are of Hispanic descent or who have family members of Hispanic descent. The only other criteria for membership is that interested parties must currently reside in Garden City. According to president Sandra Cadavid, who has been a member for a decade and is in the middle of her two-year term, the seeds for the club were planted out of a sense of isolation and a desire to connect with fellow Latinos.
“I understand that the person who originally had the idea had just moved to Garden City and was very lonely. She found someone else who spoke Spanish, so she decided to get together and start this group,” Cadavid explained. “I think their idea was that there were many Latinos in Garden City and they wanted to get together and share community time. They also wanted to share our culture and traditions with our children. We all come from different spaces, from Spain to Mexico. Even though we’re all Latino, we’re all very different—food-wise, traditions—everything.”
Among the social and cultural activities HOLA offers to its members are meetings, social events for couples, book club, family picnics and holiday parties. There are also quite a bit of community outreach and community service opportunities for grades 6 to 12 that include a recent coat drive for The INN (The Interfaith Nutrition Network), in which HOLA collected more than 100 items for the Hempstead-based private social service agency. Among the handful of activities open to non-members are meetings of Club Juventud and the annual awarding of a $500 HOLA Award to a deserving Garden City High School senior. HOLA’s scholarship is open to non-Latino seniors. Criteria for applying includes having four years of Spanish instruction, maintaining a certain GPA and submitting their application in Spanish. While prior submissions have come in essay form, videos were accepted for the first time this year. Club Juventud takes place at the Garden City Library and focuses on introducing different Latin American countries to elementary school-age children.
“We meet four months in the spring and four months in the fall and when we do Club Juventud, we teach the kids about one Latin American culture. We have a Power Point presentation and try to bring kids in from the community.” Cadavid said. “We bring in that country’s flag and show them where it is on a map. We try to teach kids who we are and try to have fun together. That’s basically what we tell people. We are a group that wants to keep our Latin flair going. And we try to help the community here as well.”
To find out more about HOLA, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the HOLA of Garden City, NY Facebook page.