By Kim Dishongh
The Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas (HWOA) used a mini-grant from Arkansas Community Foundation to help Hispanic women in northwest Arkansas. The grant helped HWOA clients access information and resources while schools and other organizations were closed or offering limited services because of the spread of COVID-19.
“There is certainly social distancing, but the needs of the community have not changed,” said Margarita Solorzano, executive director of the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas.
The Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas was founded in 1999 to provide Hispanic and Latino women with educational opportunities, celebrate their cultures and encourage active community participation.
With a $1,000 Covid-19 Rapid Response Fund mini-grant from the Foundation, Solorzano developed tutorials to help the population served by Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas understand how to use telemedicine and to avoid becoming victims of scams. The organization also prepared and distributed information about how clients could lower their risk of contracting Covid-19 and how to get tested if they think they might have the novel coronavirus.
“That is very important because a lot of times the Spanish speaking community relies only on the national news, which is in Spanish,” said Solorzano. “They don’t know what measures or what guidelines the local cities are putting in place to protect their communities.”
Solorzano also used mini-grant money to have the organization’s office phone routed to a home phone number so that she or another of Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas’s employees could answer calls and respond to requests for help.
“Most of our clients prefer more in-person, face-to-face meetings,” said Solorzano, explaining that clients often don’t schedule appointments in advance but call when they reach the building. “A lot of times they are calling because they are lost in the building and need to find where our offices are.”
Being able to take the calls quickly and in person made a big difference for one client in particular, a single mom, who was experiencing a drainage issue on public property that caused flooding on her property every time it rained. The issue is being addressed by city inspectors now, thanks to the facilitation by the Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas.
“In having that trusting voice on the other side of the phone, we can get the information quickly,” said Solorzano. “We can help these women with what they need.”