- Katherine McGee
Denise Zabala: A Life dedicated to culture, art, and communication
Who is Denise Zabala? She is an advocate for art forms and culture, a loving wife, and an active member of her community who always strives to empower adults and youth.
In Lancaster Pennsylvania, Denise Zabala has a crucial job with the Latin American Alliance, an organization that focuses on preserving Latino cultures by teaching about customs and bringing some traditions to the city of Lancaster. Alliance members can be Latinos or non-Latinos who want to appreciate Latin American lives and learn more about what it means to be Latino. Mrs. Zabala is a member of the Cultural Development Committee and Festival Planning Committee, and she loves working with both of them. Her favorite part of these jobs is the exchange between volunteers. She describes, "We really like being together, and I like that we have some of the same passion for developing culture." Also, she told me with a happy voice, "I love seeing the fruit of our work with the committees."
Many aspects of the Latin American Alliance drew Zabala to the committees she works with. She explained that she knew of the organization because her husband is one of the founders, and she joined to advance its "mission to help Latinos learn, understand, and appreciate their culture." The Alliance helps people learn about Latin America, especially children in the United States who are not very familiar with these cultures. Also, it ensures that no one—Latino or non-Latino—has misinformation about Latin American cultures.
Denise Zabala was very inspired by the first festival she worked on. She exclaims, "It was fabulous!" Another aspect of the organization that inspires Denise is the Spanish Writing Contest, and she remembers the first time there were young Latinos reading poems in Spanish. "It gave them an opportunity to express themselves in their own language; it was powerful," she says.
Denise Zabala described herself as a very social woman. She admits, "I didn't have much confidence in my youth," but she says that now she loves exchanging with other people. Outside of the Latin American Alliance, she works at a car auction, which she likes because it is surrounded by retired people and she enjoys working outside. Additionally, she volunteers with her local church, but that's not all of the jobs she's had in her adulthood! In the past, she has taught children in elementary school and at a private school.
When Mrs. Zabala is not busy with her various forms of interaction and work, she enjoys sports and books. She says with a laugh, "My husband says I read too much. I don't think that's true, but I like to read." In college, she played field hockey, so now she still has an appreciation for sports, and says she likes basketball most.
Denise's passion for so many different activities and her commitment to community involvement are exceptional, and I hope her example will serve as an example for others who want to lead with love and enthusiasm.