Latina leadership honored at reception Sunday

OnesIBringWithMeA special reception is planned Sunday, May 4, from 1 to 3pm at the Marshalltown Public Library recognizing several Marshalltown Latinas whose stories have been published in the book “The Ones I Bring With Me.”

Three MHS freshman plus several Marshalltown Latina leaders are among the fifteen Iowa girls and women who contributed stories to “The Ones I Bring With Me: Iowa’s Young Latinas on Education, Identity, and Success”,” which will be available for sale throughout the event.

The ‘meet and greet’ event will begin with music by members of the MHS orchestra from 1- 1:30 followed by with a short program, with Veronica Guevara serving as facilitator, and readings from the book.

All of the women and girls featured in the book have been active in “Latinas al Exito,” a project that links middle school Latino students with college-educated adults, and helps the students envision college in their future.

Pam Swarts, Marshalltown business owner, and Jan Mitchell, former MHS teacher, co-founded Latinas al Éxito in 2006 as a diversity project for the American Association of University Women.  Now called Al Éxito, the project has grown to become a 501(c)3 organization with a 15 member board, an executive director, and a presence in several other Iowa communities.

The original planning committee included five Latina women who continue to show leadership and guidance in Marshalltown: Anel Garza, elementary principal; district teachers Gladis Gonzalez and Francie Woerner; MEP coordinator with Marshalltown Community College, Joan Jaimes; banking professional, Gabriella Vargas Gonzalez; and real estate agent, Martha Garcia. These women and others who were recruited as the first madrinas, will be honored at Sunday’s event, alongside the madrinas of today.

The book itself is the first project of Drake University Press, and was created by a ‘cross-disciplinary’ team of students and faculty at Drake University.  Dr. Carol Spaulding-Kruse, project coordinator, will attend the reception and speak briefly about the vision and outcome. “Every Iowa should own a copy of this book!” says Spaulding-Kruse. “It will simultaneously make you proud and intrigued, plus saddened and motivated; it will definitely alter stereotypical perspectives in both the Anglo and Latino culture.”

The book will be available for purchase throughout the Sunday reception and 100 percent of the proceeds from book sales will go to Al Éxito.