Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Tara Lentz volunteers with a heart for Spanish-speaking Nashvillians

Spanish/religion major follows calling to Second Presbyterian Church, Conexion Americas

This Tennessean story profiles Tara Lentz, a 22-year-old former cheerleader from Blowing Rock, N.C., who is one of four participants in this year's Nashville Ephinany Project, launched in 2000 by Second Presbyterian Church.

"The goals of the 11-month program include developing a Christian community to live as an example of Christ's service to others, to engage in spiritual disciplines like prayer and service and to help the volunteers determine their futures."

"Tara, who has degrees in religion and Spanish from Wake Forest, is applying both disciplines to her work at Conexion Americas, a non-profit that serves the Hispanic immigrant population by helping them with language skills, professional counseling and connecting them with services. 'We try to do what's needed to help them integrate' comfortably into the Nashville area."

"Tara's calling to help Hispanic immigrants assimilate was heavily influenced by a mission trip 'to work with migrant farm workers in South Florida, in a place called Immokalee.' That revealed to her how much these new Americans needed Spanish-speaking people of faith."

"Tara's thinking of a life in the nonprofit world. Or in the ministry. Social work? Whatever the cause, 'I definitely want to use my Spanish. Immigration is such an important issue.'"

"To her, it's just following the lessons of the Bible."

"'Everything I've learned about love and Christian faith is that Jesus was welcoming to strangers. People of faith everywhere have to learn ways we can welcome these people.'"

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