Georgia sees Hispanic population growth - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia sees Hispanic population growth

August 28, 2005

Albany-- Music is helping to move the hispanic members of Centro Cristiano Victoria. "Saying it backwards will be Victory Christian Center," says Reverend Jose Mendoza. Either way you say the name, Reverend Jose Mendoza has watched his church move forward for nearly eight years.

"We're already over 45 and very slowly just gaining pace at the same time," says Mendoza.

His church membership is an example of the boom in Hispanic population in Georgia over the years. According to the US Census Bureau, the hispanic population has grown in Georgia from about 5.3 percent in 2000 to about 6.3 percent in 2003. That growth is also evident here in South Georgia. Mendoza attributes that growth to people wanting a better way of life.

"The majority in this church here, all of them work. Some of them work on lawn care. Some have their own business," says Mendoza. In East Albany alone, there's Mexican groceries and Mexican restaurants. More and more businesses will be popping up as Hispanics make a home for themselves in Georgia.

A new life in a new city requires getting over the language barriers, something that can be hard for anyone. "I couldn't speak. I was scared," says Noemi Mendoza. Noemi Mendoza now teaches others how to speak English and transition into a new culture.

"I try to tell them you can do this. If I did it, even though I'm from Puerto Rico, I consider myself an American," says Noemi. She and her husband have both found a place to help the Hispanic community prosper here in the good life city.

"We're here not to take over but to help the people too, to help other people," says Noemi. "God has begun connecting the dots, one with another to begin working with the community," says Jose.

They pray those connections continue to grow right along with the booming population.

The Mendozas also help bridge language gaps in the community by translating for Hispanic patients at area hospitals. They're also planning a healthfest for the hispanic population in October.

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