Newsletter & Upcoming Events May 2012
Dear LAA Friend & Supporter,
As we progress in an exciting year of growth and change, the Latin American Association celebrates its 40th year anniversary in 2012.  Looking forward, we reflect on the LAA’s story of hope and transformation and the important role you have played in helping this story unfold.  Without the passion and commitment of our staff, volunteers, board of directors, individual donors, and funders, the LAA could not impact the lives of tens of thousands of men, women, and children each year. We thank you for your support of the community through the LAA and thank you for being apart of our 40 year legacy of changing lives.
40 Years of Changing Lives
40 Years of Changing Lives


Jeffery Tapia
Executive Director
Latin American Association


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Latin American Association
2750 Buford Highway
Atlanta, GA 30324
Our Mission
Helping Latino families achieve their aspirations for academic, social, and economic advancement.

“I’m Sanitago and I’m 13 years old.  It was really scary- I never wanted to go home after school.  My mom’s boyfriend was always mad, shouted all the time and he hit her a lot.  When I tried to protect her, he turned on me and beat me up.  For me, watching my mom suffer and hurt was worse than my own blows.  The LAA was our refuge and helping hand.”
Your Help is Urgently Needed to Save Women & Children
950 families are at risk and need your support to escape domestic abuse.
The GOAL: 200,000 in 90 days
Please Donate Today & Give New Life and Hope.

The LAA’s domestic violence program opens a door to safety and independence for immigrant women and children experiencing abuse and other crimes.  Immigrants suffer higher rates of abuse, and “often feel trapped in abusive relationships because of immigration laws, langauge barriers, social isolation, and lack of financial resources.”  By donating, YOU empower courageous individuals to seek protection and lead self-sufficeint lives.
Thank you for your generosity!


HCLF-Growing Latino Business & Corporate Supplier Diversity

HCLF meetings provide an interactive forum for professionals, community members and affinity leaders to discuss important issues facing the Latino community.  The Latin American Association in partnership with Corporate Affinity Leaders will continue to embrace the Latino community in an effort to support the initiatives of volunteerism, education, social and economic advancement, and the betterment of all.  Previous topics have included education, immigration, the role of consulates in the community, and the LAA’s family services and DFCS partnership.  Explore how affinity group leaders can serve as liaisons for growing Latino businesses with regards to supplier diversity, as well as create long lasting relationships between small business and corporations.  Turner Uno, Turner’s Affinity group will host the meeting and breakfast is sponsored by Fulcro Insurance.

LAA Collaborations Empowers Elizabeth Alenan

Elizabeth Alenan participated in the Sequoyah middle school after school program.  By participating in parenting classes, becoming a volunteer for the LAA, and participating in the advocacy class for children, Elizabeth has empowered herself and her child Mario.  As part of the after school program, Mario received tutoring, leadership development, arts as part of the LAA band class, tango classes, and college awareness.  He also participated in our College Access Conference and Atlanta Symphony.  Through the collaboration of the LAA Youth department, LAA Community Services division, and partnership with the parent center from Sequoyah Middle School, she has helped kids of all ages in their education.  She even learned the process of applying for Marios enrollment in Pre K, a program that is not attended by many Latinos due to lack of information.  Helping her kid’s education, Elizabeth is an example of the power of being involved across all functions of the LAA.


State Farm Grant Keeps Latinos Safe

The LAA is honored to receive a $65,000 grant from State Farm Insurance to support Youth Academic Achievement and Teen Driver Safety.  The funding will support the LAA’s Youth Academic Achievement Initiative which seeks to close the Latino student academic achievement gap and provide programs that empower Latino students to realize their full potential.  The program strengthens students’ reading, writing, and math skills and also incorporates culturally-appropriate enrichment activities, career and college readiness, tutoring and mentoring, community service, and leadership development.  The Latino Teen Driver Safety program will educate teens on road awareness, being a smart passenger, severe weather driving, and the importance of driving without distraction.  State Farm’s long-term commitment  to our mission and the community is helping to keep Latino youth safe and on a path to success.


New Computer Classes Provide Classes on Graphic Design and Quicken

The LAA provides classes on graphic design for optimizing photography results.  Students learn strategies for manipulating images, and how to take advantage of features such as layers, paths, and transparencies.  The LAA also provides a Quicken, a personal financial management software program, class for organizing finances.  Students learn managing important monthly expenses, automated online banking and bill-paying features, balancing a checkbook, writing and printing checks, creating budgets, tracking and controlling credit card spending, managing tax information, creating tax reports for tax season to make filing easy, and more!  For more information, see the graphics design and Quicken flyers.  Contact Lana Gavrilov at (404) 638-1802 or or visit

Learn Computer Basics With Our Instructional Classes

We offer computer courses for adults which include comprehensive instruction on basic to advanced level computer skills. Computer subjects include Microsoft Word, the Internet and email. For individuals seeking advanced instruction, we provide computer courses in Excel and PowerPoint.  For the registration schedule, click here.  For more information, contact Lana Gavrilov at (404) 638-1802 or or visit

LAALogo2008New Family Services Partnerships

The LAA has partnered with new organizations to better our family services department.  Emory Global Heed will be helping those seeking medical advice.  Metro Fair Housing is a private, not-for-profit, fair housing organization who prevents housing discrimination throughout Georgia.  They are coming once a month.  Credability provides counseling and education 24/7, in both English and Spanish, online by telephone. They also offer in-person counseling at 25 offices located across the southeastern U.S.  Lifting Latino Voices is a program under Feminist Women Health Center who provide educational services, empowers metro-Atlanta Latinos through education and outreach to develop a diverse group of women making informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.



Family Services Provides Service to Families in Urgent Need

Through our community services, we provide resources to families in urgent need.  The LAA and Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia offer free sickle cell screenings and information on the 1st tuesday of every month from 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.  The 3rd Monday of every month from 9:30-12:00 p.m., the LAA and AID Atlanta offer free and confidential HIV screenings.  On the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the LAA and Atlanta Legal Aid offer free consultation.  On the 1st and 2nd Saturday of every month from 9:30-11:30, and the LAA and Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program offer information on diabetes.  Every other month on the 2nd Saturday of the month, Lupus Foundation of Georgia and LAA provide a support group that meets with families. Finally, the last Saturday of every month from 10:00-12:00 p.m., the LAA provides a epilepsy support group in Spanish.


Norcross Hosts Gardening Day for Kids

Parents and children met together at the Norcross Outreach Center for a day of gardening and fun.  The Norcross Gardening Day brought families together to plant vegetables they will be taking care of until they grow and they can enjoy with their kids.  The kids have a lot of fun doing the plantings and working in the dirt.  Thank you to our Norcross Outreach Center for continuing to reach out to our youth.


LAALogo20083rd Annual Spring College Access Conference (CAC) 2012

The LAA invited 400 participants to the CAC hosted by Kennesaw State University and sponsored by the Board of Regents and Communities in School of Georgia on April 14th.  Organized and coordinated by college students, the event is recognized as one of the best regional conferences in Georgia.  Approximately 12% of Latinos dropout after middle school and the conference provides tools to succeed in life, prepare for college, promote higher education, scholarship information, and sessions for parents and teachers.  A workshop was provided to seniors applying for college utilizing GA 411 services and LAHFA opened eyes for a meal in the college dining hall. Keynote speeches were given by 2 students on their personal journeys to relate the event’s message to today’s students.  The LAA continues to expose young people to developing college readiness.  Thanks to those who attended.


23rd Companeros Awards Luncheon Honors Latino Community Leaders

We honored Latino businesses and community leaders whose actions have directly benefited Atlanta’s Latino community at the Georgia Aquarium. Banda Santa Cecilia Arroyo Blanco played during our pre-reception representing the traditions of Oaxaca, Mexico.  Award-winning Mexican-American Producer Moctesuma Esparza spoke on the importance of education and the Latino community. His inspiring story of overcoming a conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor for a walk out was a speech to remember.  Awardees included Phillip Alequin Jr. for Outstanding Community Leadership,Service and Commitment; Stacey Abrams for Outstanding Public Service; Wells Fargo for Exemplary Corporate Ledership; Lino Dominguez for Media Excellence, and Maria Vargas for the Perseverance Award.

Substitute Teacher Training Program Teaches Women Childcare

The LAA’s complete intensive  training program teaches women how to take care of children ages 0-5 year old.  The course is offered in Spanish during April 16th-20th in order to teach women on health and safety, CPR, nutrition, discipline, and practice in daycare.  The course is taught at Suwanee, Marietta, Roswell, Dekalb, and Atlanta.  This year’s program graduated 30 people by providing them with a portfolio of a resume, training, and activities to give to future employers.


Maria Vargas Personifies Perseverance

Maria Vargas personifies perseverance, strengthen and hope for other women, and the LAA is honored to recognize her with the 2012 Perseverance Award.  Ms. Vargas was living in a dangerous and violent situation, desperately seeking a way to safety for herself and her children. “The abuse was happening at home,” said Ms. Vargas.  “I lived in extreme fear of my husband, and I was being abused in a way that no human being should ever have to suffer.” Vargas sought help from the LAA.  “The Association opened its doors to me and gave me the help I needed.” said Vargas.  The LAA provided her with a safety plan, filing a Temporary Protective Order, rental assistance, applying for food stamps and Medicaid, obtaining a U Visa, English Classes, and eventually moving forward to a happier life without her abusive husband.  Ms. Vargas is a unique survivor of a critical situation, and she continuously strives to improver her life and her children.  At the LAA, we celebrate her peace and restored hope.

NAHJ Immigration Panel Discusses Impact of the Border on Atlanta

In a transparent discussion on immigration, the safety and security of the border in Mexico and Arizona was discussed for understanding it’s impact on Atlanta.  Arizona saw 453 assaults and 2,800 immigrants cross the border in extreme conditions.  1 million immigrated, 140,000 found jobs, and 2.5% of those came to Georgia.   In Mexico, there is trust between Mexican authorities and Border Patrol for the 25 underground tunnels it sees each year. The Border patrol reduced illegal immigrants to 129,000–the lowest in 40 years.  The 5,400 agents have been more effective with the use of aviation movement, UAV’s, thermal technology, and seismic sensors.  Problems of department practices, lack of due process, agency accountability, and agency complaints have made this a comprehensive immigration reform.


After School LAA End of Program Celebration at Sequoyah Middle School

Organized and coordinated by college students, this program uses students for a mentor to 7 high school students ratio to work with specific grades to address school retention.  With an individualized, long-term approach to working with 60 students, the LAA follows students until high school, tracks them in college, and infuses best practices for Latinos by setting high expectations for measurement under Common Cord State Standards.  The program includes academic tutoring, college readiness, leadership, tutoring, mentoring, parent involvement,cultural enrichment activities, and civic engagement.  The students are considered the best and the brightest.  Metaphorically, students empower themselves as “shining stars.”  The graduating ceremony was presented by students in a fully bilingual experience consisting of a powerpoint on different salary earnings for college graduates vs. high school students, a tango and jazz band performance, LAA song, and parental reflection of the program.

Program Vita Helps Families File Taxes

The LAA Atlanta Outreach Center and the VITA Program (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) will offer free tax preparation to Individuals who earned less than $49,000 in 2011.  This year’s program helped over 50 clients.  The VITA program is a national initiative of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that offers FREE tax help to people who cannot prepare their own tax returns. IRS certified and trained volunteers, sponsored by various organizations, help prepare basic tax returns and working families with special tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly for which they may qualify.  Each location also offers free electronic filing. They are coming five times a year to close on tax report ending dates.  For more information, contact Cynthia Roman at (404) 638-1834 or visit


30th Annual Career Expo Connects Bilingual Professionals

Career Expo is Atlanta’s premier bilingual career fair that connects talented bilingual professionals with companies of choice in metro Atlanta, while directly benefiting children and families that participate in LAA programs and services.  This year’s Career Expo also offered career building workshops for job candidates including “Getting Ready to Network,” “The Power of Networking,” and “Job Hunting Strategies Using Social Media.”  Thank you to all of our sponsors and candidates that came out for this great event.


LAA Celebrates Love and Passion for Our Community

The LAA celebrated a night of festivity & dance to celebrate 40 years of love & passion for our community.  In honor of our 40th Anniversary, we invited attendees to enjoy Orquesta Sabor, DJ Carlitos, exquisite Latin American hors d’oeuvres, and stunning views from Hotel Melia’s top floor.  A special art exhibit was featured in partnership with the Institute of Mexico.  Thanks to all those who attended.



NAHJ Hosts Human Trafficking Discussion

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Atlanta Chapter along with the Atlanta Press Club (APC) co-hosted a press event with the U.S. Department of Justice for Human Trafficking at the Latin American Association in January.  Atlanta has been labeled as the #1 city of exploitation and Atlanta Magazine has called it the “Sex City” of Georgia for being the forefront of human trafficking in the United States because of location, transportation, and diverse population.  According to Nick Valencia, president of NAHJ, 72,000 men have committed 8,000 sex acts and 28,000 men pay for sex.  Fighting against modern day slavery, a distinguished team of law enforcement experts including the Atlanta heads of ICE, Brock Nicholson, the FBI, Brian Lamkin and U.S. Attorney, and Sally Yates came together for this panel discussion.

LAALogo2008HCLF-The True Impact of HB87 on the Latino Community

We hosted “The True Impact of HB87 on the Latino Community” in the Hispanic Leadership Conference Forum in January that provided information about Georgia’s immigration legislation HB87 to the Latino community.  More than 40 Hispanic leaders attended, and experts in constitutional, criminal and immigration law explained the effect legislation has on isolation, unemployment, racial profiling, parenting, and choques culturales that the LAA sees everyday.  As a leading service provider to the Latino community, it is vital that we provide access to information to educate the Latino community, reduce today’s racial profiling, and understand migration challenges.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Plays Latino Music from Machu Picchu to Mexico

The Latin American Association celebrated the New Year and LAA 40th Anniversary with an evening dedicated to the rich musical and artistic culture of Latin America.  We hosted an enchanting tour through the mesmerizing sounds of Maes Juan R. Ramirez, composer and founder of the Virtuosi Foundation, and our partnership with the musicians heritage from Danza Amerindian, Suite Latina for string quarter and strings, “In Memoriam: for Astor Piazolla, and four dances from Suite Huasteca that left guest touched.  The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra put on a culturally moving array of music demonstrating the unique sound of Latin America.  By partnering with the LAA, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra engages Latinos and builds relevance to the ASO, as a life enrichment resource for the Latino community.

Upcoming Volunteer Operations & Internship Opportunities
Find out about volunteer opportunities on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. (Click here to RSVP) and Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. (Click here to RSVP).  From working with families to supporting special events, learn how you can get involved in many different ways.  Internships are also available at the LAA.  Click here for details on internships.  For more info, email  Thanks so much.

English Language Learners (ELL) Program
The LAA’s ELL program takes a communicative approach to teaching English through interactive activities of every-day language skills.  Group, partner, and problem solving work provide a stronger foundation for English language outside of the classroom. The program serves 1800 students annually with 6 levels for students to advance their proficiency and reach their goals.  Sessions last 5 weeks with classes meeting twice a week and are offered through Atlanta and Norcross centers.  We also offer free ELL Teacher Training Workshops for volunteer teachers who teach ELL to adult immigrants, new professional adult ELL teachers, and experienced adult ELL teachers looking for additional training.  With such a success year, we would like to take opportunity to thank all our teachers, interns and volunteers for their contribution to our program.  Without them, our work would not be possible.  We would also like to give a special thanks to Paul Spitzer for his dedication and excellent instruction of the ELL Teacher Training Workshops!
Back-to-School Supplies Drive & “Shopping” Event
Give students the tools they need to succeed academically by collecting and donating school supplies for students.  Supplies include: binders, calculators, pens, pencils, lunch bags, binders, notebooks, crayons, rulers, markers, and more.  More than 800 students receive the supplies during a fun and free “shopping” event where they choose what they need for the year.

LAALogo2008Start Spanish Classes in 2012Today is the perfect day to finally start those Spanish classes you’ve always wanted to take.  We offer a unique and interactive learning experience that focuses on conversation and real-life skills.  Become truly immersed and register today!  Click here to sign up for weekday of Saturday classes.  For more information, contact Lana Gavrilov at (404) 638-1802 or visit




Tap into the Global Market with our Corporate Spanish Classes

If you want your company to stay ahead of today’s increasing Hispanic market we have programs to meet your needs.  Our corporate language classes are designed to meet the specialized needs of your company in the comfort of your own office at a time convenient to you.  Classes are provided by expert, native Spanish speakers.  For more information, contact Lana Gavrilov at (404) 638-1802 or


Translation Services Available: Now Offering Portuguese

We translate a wide variety of documents from Spanish to English, English to Spanish, as well as English to Portuguese and Portuguese to English.  We can help you with your private, business, legal or immigration translation needs.  Confidentiality is assured, and all translations are signed, certified and notarized.  For more information or a free quote call (404) 638-1829, email or visit

Private Spanish & Portuguese Classes Available!

We provide one-on-one or small group private classes designed to help students advance their Spanish/Portuguese skills through listening, speaking, reading and writing activities.  Classes are taught by native Spanish and Portuguese instructors with professional teaching experience.  For more information, contact Lana Gavrilov at (404) 638-1802



Join us for Coffee Hour!

Come to the Latin American Association on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. to practice conversation in Spanish and English with other language learners in an informal setting.  Free pastries and coffee are provided by Starbucks!  For more information contact Lana Gavrilov at (404), or


Copa Latina de Atlanta: Sign Up Your Team for Registration

The Latin American Association will be hosting the 3rd annual Copa Latina de Atlanta: Charity Soccer Tournament & Family Fiesta community event on Saturday, June 30, 2012 at the Atlanta Silverbacks Park. The events offers a day of wellness and healthy activities for the entire family that contributes to the overall well-being of our community.  The soccer tournament will have 48 teams competing from 8:30 am to 4:00 p.m.  Register your team today by signing up here.



Copa Latina de Atlanta: Family Fiesta
Our Family fiesta is free of charge for anyone that wants to join and activities for people of all ages. This event takes place at the main field of the Silverbacks stadium from 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. Among some of the activities we will be offering are: soccer clinics, kid’s activities, jazzercise, Zumba sessions, and live performances.


Latino Youth Leadership Conference

More than 1,000 students will discover their future opportunities during a free day of interactive workshops, college information, and inspirational presentations.  The conference inspires students to achieve academically, with an overall goal to minimize the Latino dropout rate. The conference is presented by Verizon, Univision 34 and hosted in partnership with the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute and Emory University.  The day includes a campus lunch with college students and a college career fair.  See last year’s Latino Youth Leadership Conference below.

13th Annual Latino Youth Leadership
13th Annual Latino Youth Leadership


LAALogo2008Latin Fever Ball 

On Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the InterContinental Hotel Buckhead , the LAA will have it’s annual Latin Fever Ball.  Celebrate Latin America’s beautiful, vibrant tapestry of cultures, people and traditions during Latin Fever Ball, one of the most festive and elegant galas in Atlanta.  Hosted in honor of the Latin American Association’s 40th Anniversary during Hispanic Heritage Month, the black tie event features exquisite Latin cuisine, spectacular dancing and a silent auction.


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