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Advancing Cause Of Hispanic Women

By Dina Sánchez

September 22, 2001
Copyright © 2001 ORLANDO SENTINEL. All Rights Reserved.




Call her a civic servant -- by choice.

Since the age of 17, Zoraida Ríos-Andino has felt compelled to get involved in Hispanic, political, and environmental causes. Now the Orlando woman is undertaking something new.

She and a friend, Felicita Rodríguez, are starting a local chapter of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women.

Such work is typical of Ríos-Andino, who was a key organizer of NACOPRW's Indiana chapter. She didn't want to simply join a local club for Puerto Rican women when she moved here last September. She wanted something bigger.

"You get your power when you're united with people on the state and national level," she said of the group, which is one of 31 organizations that govern Washington's National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. "We need to think national."

In Indiana, Ríos-Andino and Rodríguez helped transform that chapter from a young group struggling to take root into a fixture in the lives of both its members and neighboring communities.

"It's all about culture and helping individuals," Rodríguez said.

Riós-Andino would like to do the same in Orlando, where the chapter now has about 35 members.

In Central Florida "my ultimate goal is to see at least 10 chapters with at least 50 to 100 members," she said.

But for now, she's focusing on one chapter where she hopes to both emulate and improve upon the work done by the Indiana club. She also foresees starting a club youth group.

Ten members are all that's needed to constitute a chapter. Thanks to press and word of mouth the two already have more than enough. At their first meeting last month, Ríos-Andino and Rodríguez were voted president and second vice-president, respectively.

"This will be a good chapter," said Rodríguez.

First-time member, Rosaida Meléndez initially spotted information about the club's formation on the Internet, and looks forward to what lies ahead for NACOPRW's newest edition.

"I thought, 'Maybe, if I join this group, I'll be able to help in some way,' " said Meléndez of Orlando.

At the annual national convention, the group concentrates on a major issue affecting Hispanics. This year's conference, scheduled for November in Philadelphia, will focus on education.

For information on NACOPRW, call 321-235-1506.

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