HOLA Savannah working to make city more inclusive

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 11:29 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - As WTOC continues to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re taking a closer look at a city of Savannah task force that celebrates and recognizes the incredible contributions of our diverse Hispanic community.

HOLA Savannah stands for Hispanic Outreach, Leadership and Advocacy. We sat down with two of the women on that task force who say they are working to make Savannah a more inclusive place for all.

Myriam Baker moved to Savannah 16 years ago. A Puerto Rican Native who grew up in Miami, she is a proud member of the HOLA Savannah task force.

“That is a privilege and an honor that the mayor asked me to be part of it. We are basically trying to develop a positive relationship between the city and the Hispanic residents,” Baker said.

Baker has worked for the city of Savannah for 10 years and says this task force is so important to Hispanic members of the community.

“People don’t feel like they’ve been welcomed and they’ve always been outsiders if you speak Spanish. So this is an effort to kind of mend that relationship and turn it into a positive thing, and also to let Hispanics know they are part of the city of Savannah,” said Baker.

Beatriz Severson is also a member of the HOLA Savannah task force, but unlike Myriam Baker, she is still new to the Hostess City.

“I moved from Miami-Dade County, so it’s a completely different world. And I was a little concerned as far as how I would be able to fit in the community,” said Severson.

Severson is a registered nurse who moved to Savannah right before the pandemic. She quickly became an advocate working to educate the Hispanic community in the fight against COVID-19.

“Anytime that I’m in a clinic I just walk in and talking to the community, and I’m able to answer their questions and dissipate the misinformation that they have...and then after they agree to sit down and receive the vaccine, it’s just a great win,” Severson said.

She says she is forever grateful her family took a chance on the Hostess City.

“I’m just blessed that I have been able to meet with a village of leaders in the community,” said Severson.

And Baker says she hopes all Savannahians can recognize and be proud of the contributions Hispanics have made to our city.

“We should share and celebrate each other, our differences, and even though you might think that we’re different, deep down inside we have many things in common,” Baker said.

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