Staff spotlight: Vicky aspires to achieve more accessibility

When Vicky Espinoza heard the Center for Rural Affairs was growing in their efforts to help the Latino community, she jumped at the chance to become part of the team.

Since last fall, Vicky’s role as a project assistant has grown. She helps translate useful tools and documents; organize events; and serves as a gatekeeper to some Center services.

“I find so much joy in using my bilingual skills to make it easier for the Latino community to understand more about the Center’s valuable programs,” she said. “I’m grateful I can make things more accessible for Spanish-speaking people.”

Vicky is excited to have this opportunity, and says connecting with new people is her favorite part.

“I get to work with different people wherever I'm needed and can be of assistance,” she said. “Many Spanish-speaking people don’t know what services and programs the Center offers until I translate for them. It’s a wonderful feeling, doing my part to help them realize their dreams.”

In addition to utilizing her bilingual skills, Vicky hopes to learn more about what can be done to help make communities more inclusive when it comes to different cultures, races, languages, and ethnicities, and believes her previous experiences will aid in that cause.

“I used to work for the Centro Hispano Comunitario de Nebraska, in Columbus, where I helped with their naturalization clinic,” she said. “I saw how many people of different races were excited to become naturalized citizens and then have the opportunity to vote. They told me it made them feel like they finally had a voice in making a difference in their community and their country.”

Though Vicky was born in Mexico, she was brought to the United States when she was 18 months old. Due to her father’s job—constructing road bridges—her family moved around frequently throughout her childhood. From California to all over Nebraska, and even for a short period in Chicago, Vicky considers rural America her favorite place to live. A big backyard to play in, and quiet streets with no traffic jams, are just a couple of the perks.

“Rural America is my home—I grew up here, and I’m raising my family here,” she said. “Having a family close by and knowing your family isn't bound just to blood family, but the community, your neighbors, also become family—that’s why rural America is so special.”

That’s also why Vicky is so grateful to have the chance to help others in small communities, and stresses the importance of taking care of our small towns and keeping them strong.

“Moving so much as a child helped me see that we are all different, but we also want some of the same things—safe communities and healthy families,” she said. “We need community engagement to be able to communicate adequately with our neighbors. Working at the Center gives me that opportunity—to help keep small towns beautiful and prosperous for generations to come.”

When Vicky isn’t advocating for rural America, she stays busy with her family and other endeavours. She has five children between the ages of 7 and 14, and a dog named Herbie, who make sure there’s never a dull moment in her life. Vicky also teaches Zumba classes twice a week, and always makes time to drink plenty of coffee.

Vicky can be reached at her office in Lyons at 402.687.2100 ext. 1038 or vickye@cfra.org.