LAA helps family keep home, get back on its feet after facing hard times


After almost facing eviction late last year, the Jimenez family is grateful to be in their three-bedroom apartment in Doraville, the place they have called home since arriving in the U.S. in December 2012.


Last fall, after the father and breadwinner, Hector Jimenez, could no longer work due to a major surgery, the close-knit family of three almost lost their home. And with the mom facing health issues too, a son in high school, a daughter studying at a technical college and another son recovering from knee surgery, the family had no other source of income. When October came around, they could not pay the rent. They were on the verge of being evicted.


Then, a family friend referred them to the Latin American Association (LAA), which provided funds to help with their November rent. The LAA, through its Family Services Department, was also able to help the family negotiate with the apartment complex manager an installment plan for their delinquent rent, even as they faced an eviction notice and a date in court. The Jimenez family was able to stay in their home.


"I can't even begin to describe what the LAA did for us," says Aniuska Jimenez, 22, the eldest of the family's children. "If it hadn't been for the LAA, who knows where we would be right now. It was a miracle."


The Jimenez family is originally from Colombia. They arrived in Georgia as refugees a little over a year ago, after living in Trinidad and Tobago for 11 years. Soon after arriving, Hector found a job working at a factory and the family was doing well. But things started to look down when the mother, Ana, who worked at the W Hotel, had to leave her job because of chronic health problems. Their middle son had to have knee surgery from problems he had before arriving in the U.S. And Hector had to have emergency surgery in September and had to stop working. The parents did not want their daughter Aniuska to drop out of school and get a job.


After exhausting all options, they came to the LAA. The LAA was able to help them with one full month of rent and other services, says Cynthia Roman, managing director of the LAA's Family Services Deparment.


"We went the extra mile, advocating on behalf of the family and coordinating services," says Roman. "Our office called the manager at their apartment complex and negotiated a payment plan, which allowed them to stay in their home."  


In addition, the LAA was able to stop the eviction process by coordinating bilingual legal representation through the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless.


"The LAA was our last resort," Aniuska says.


These days, the Jimenez family is getting back on its feet. The father has found work at a Walmart near their home, and the mother is cleaning houses. Aniuska just finished a medical assistant program and is looking for a job. Her 19-year-old brother, Alberth, is planning on going to school once he recovers from knee surgery.  


"We can now start to get our life back on track," Aniuska says. "Little by little we are getting ahead."

LAA English teacher connects to students through language and culture


Before John Turnbull started teaching English to speakers of other languages, he took some time to learn Spanish. He studied Spanish on his own, mostly from books and with Rosetta Stone. He also lived in Popay�n, Colombia, for six months, where he resided with a Spanish-speaking family and worked with high school teachers who teach English.


"It's difficult when my students are learning a new language, so I had to take the same risk," said Turnbull. "I wanted to see what taking that risk felt like so I can be a better teacher."


Turnbull, a former newspaper journalist, has been teaching all levels of English at the LAA since 2011. He is currently teaching four classes. Turnbull is one of 24 part-time teachers who teach English, Spanish or computer classes to the more than 2,500 students who take these classes at the LAA each year. Most of the teachers have master's degrees, and most have more than three years of teaching experience, said Lana Gavrilov, LAA language programs manager.


Turnbull came to the LAA after a career in journalism and publishing. He started as a metro reporter and went on to work as a night sports editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He also worked for an academic publisher and later edited and published a book on soccer. He said his knowledge of soccer has helped him relate to students and be a better teacher. "Soccer gives you an avenue to talk about a lot of things," Turnbull said. "It motivates you to learn if you have that as a passion."


Family, he said, is another topic that motivates speech among his students.


During a recent class, Turnbull played Beyonc's "If I Were a Boy" over and over so students could understand conditional sentences. "She's using the conditional every time," he said about the lyrics.  


Gavrilov said that students love Turnbull and they always come back to his classes. "John is a very dedicated and passionate teacher," said Gavrilov. "He likes to make his classes very interesting, dynamic and fun."


Like all language classes at the LAA, Turnbull's class promotes cultural exchanges, or "intercambios," with native speakers who are learning Spanish three times during a session. "That's a great opportunity for learning at a cultural level," he said. "It's also practical with beginning students to make grammatical comparisons between the target and source languages. Both differences and similarities in language patterns can be helpful."


Turnbull, an Army brat who was born in Livorno, Italy, and lived all over the U.S., has an undergraduate degree in political science from Duke University and a master's in international affairs from Columbia University. He has a second master's in religion from the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. Turnbull has also studied Greek, Hebrew, German, Italian and Russian.


LAA joins forces with Univision for Copa Univision to support LAA programs


The LAA is joining forces with Univision this year for its fifth annual Copa Latina. In 2014, the soccer tournament and celebration of Latino culture will be bigger than it's ever been. The daylong event, now known as Copa Univision, will be filled with activities for the entire family, including Univision's kick-off of its new singing talent competition, "Idolo del Pueblo."


"Univision has always been a great partner for Copa Latina, but this year we are taking our partnership to the next level and doing the event together," said LAA Executive Director Jeffrey Tapia. "We are excited to be working with Univision, as well as with the Georgia Soccer Association, to produce an exciting day of top amateur soccer and activities for the whole family."


Copa Latina is the LAA's largest grassroots sponsorship event, reaching Atlanta's fast-growing Latino community through its passion for soccer and culture. This year, Copa Univision will be held on Saturday, March 22 at an exciting new venue: the Georgia Soccer Park in East Point.


"We are pleased to partner with the Latin American Association for this year's Copa Univision tournament," said Luis Fernandez-Rocha, senior vice president and regional director, Univision 34 Atlanta. "Univision 34 Atlanta has been part of Copa Latina since its inception and we are excited to raise our level of support to bring Copa Univision to the Atlanta market. The Latino market is hungry for soccer and with the World Cup around the corner, this tournament is the perfect kick off to an incredible global sporting event."


All Copa Univision 2014 proceeds benefit the LAA'sprograms and services.


For booths or sponsorships, please contact Jennifer Solano at 404-638-1815.

For more information on Copa Univision, please go to http://www.thelaa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=187&Itemid=448&lang=en



March 22: Copa Latina Univision


April 12: Naturalization Drive @ the LAA 


April 17: Compa�eros Awards Luncheon @ the Georgia Aquarium


June 11: Career Expo @ the LAA


October 11: Latin Fever Ball  @ the InterContinental Buckhead


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