SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Hispanic heritage is vibrant in tradition, a tradition passed down through stories, and stories like those read by leaders of the Springfield community to the predominantly Hispanic population of students at Boland Elementary School.
“To take a month where we kind of celebrate how beautiful our culture is and our heritage, it’s an opportunity for us to speak to our children, read to them in Spanish,” said Eli Serrano, a local pastor and volunteer reader. He added, “Whenever we have an opportunity to give back, that’s what we do.”
The stories that volunteers read to the students sparked conversations. Some reminisced about their home in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic before moving to western Massachusetts. Others shared stories about their grandparents still living there.
Many students at the Boland School are directly impacted by the devastation in Puerto Rico. In fact, the school welcomed three new students from the island this past week. The guest readers said reading about Puerto Rico made the students want to talk about what the greater Springfield area is doing to help family on the island.
“I also see a lot of resilience. A lot of optimism in the midst of everything that is going on, but it helps that we have a great support system here at Boland School so we help the students when they feel sad,” said Zoelma Garrafa, the Boland School parent facilitator.
It’s that sense of community, family and resiliency that’s they celebrate each day, and especially during Hispanic heritage month.