Sunday, 19 April 2015 19:45

Hispanic organization's president leaves, successor named

Written by  Brandi Bottalico, Capital Gazette, Staff
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Joyce Masterson in her Annapolis home earlier this month. She recently resigned as president and CEO of the Organization of Hispanic and Latin Americans of Anne Arundel County after 12 years in the position. 
As she did for all board meetings at her home, Joyce Masterson made chili. But when she filled the slow cooker earlier this month, she had bittersweet emotions.

It was her last meeting as president and CEO of the Organization of Hispanic and Latin Americans of Anne Arundel County.

Masterson resigned from her volunteer position at OHLA on April 9 after 12 years. "I've enjoyed it immensely," she said. "I think the time has come after all these years to go on to something else."

The organization provides assistance for the Hispanic population on matters such as immigration, legal questions, referrals, translation services and preparing tax documents. "It's just seeing the people get the help they need," said Masterson, who is in her 70s.

She primarily wrote grant proposals to the City of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Rotary clubs and other organizations, as well as finding bilingual volunteers to staff the office. "My best memories are being blessed with so many wonderful people there."

Harwood resident Tony Gamboa was voted in as her successor, and his wife, Irene, was voted in as vice president in place of Masterson's husband, Norm. "They'll do a great job," Masterson said. "He speaks the language fluently."

She wants to finish a book about her life. And she might visit the volunteer center to see what other opportunities are out there.

Meanwhile, Masterson will continue volunteering for the Opportunities Industrialization Center in Annapolis. She previously worked part-time for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Naval Academy. Outside of volunteering, she likes to write and boat.

"I don't think I'll ever retire," she said. "I think the key is to keep busy doing things that you enjoy doing — and I've enjoyed OHLA."

Masterson became involved in OHLA after the organization nearly had to close because of lack of funding and legal status.

She was asked to help because she worked for the General Assembly as a legislative aide, but she didn't have any experience with the Hispanic population and doesn't speak Spanish.

Still, Masterson secured funding to keep the organization afloat. She hopes OHLA can get more funding so it can continue to assist the growing Hispanic population.

Tony Gamboa hopes the center will eventually have enough money to be able to pay some of its volunteers. He has been a volunteer since 2007. His parents are originally from Mexico and he was born in California. His great-aunt lived with his family and didn't speak English, so they spoke Spanish at home, he said.

He provides legal assistance at OHLA on Thursdays, and also helps with tax preparation. He is also on the board of the Harwood Civic Association and retired from the federal government in 2006.

"Pretty soon your retirement almost becomes a full-time job," he said.

Masterson said that in her time at OHLA, the number of Hispanic people the organization serves has grown with the population. When she first started, the organization served about 100 a month — a figure that has doubled.

"A lot of them can't speak English very well and can't read English and they need assistance," Tony Gamboa said. "We try to provide that and give them the help to carry on."

Twitter.com/brandibot

For more information on OHLA, call 410-266-6145 or go to http://www.ohla.us/start.html.

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