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Breaking the language barrier, local woman's firm helps Latino community with critical services

Posted at 6:07 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 20:01:14-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Monday afternoon, the phone rang on Hellen Zaragoza's desk as she was going through documents for a client.

"The phone ringing never stops," she said.

In fact, it rings constantly.

"Because there are clients that I have..." Zaragoza was saying, as her phone rang again while speaking to News 3. She looked down at the phone and said, "As you can tell," with laughter.

It does not matter what time, day; at the office or at home - she answers because the local Latino community needs her help. Zaragoza started HZ Multiservices, a firm focusing on breaking the language barrier for the Latino community with issues needing to be resolved and critical services they may not get anywhere else in Spanish.

"My clients are not just a file; they're not just a number on a file," Zaragoza said. "They're real people with real problems where I've been in their shoes before, and I know the anxiety it can provoke."

She came to Hampton Roads five years ago while serving in the Navy. She is from Chicago and said she was going to return after her military service ended.

"God had other plans for me, and the Latino community here is the reason why I'm here," Zaragoza said. "I didn't leave because they needed me."

She saw a need within the Latino population in Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads. The Latino population is growing, but not the number of service specialists who do the kind of work she does in Spanish.

"I have a lot of clients that have gone to non-Spanish agencies and the language barrier is very frustrating for them," Zaragoza said. "They get overworked and overwhelmed."

Her services include translations, power of attorney letters and divorces, just to name a few.

"Taxes, ITINs, divorces, school papers, school documentation," she said, stressing the challenge Latino parents have when documents are in English. "Having to fill out school documentation is one of the hardest things for them to do."

That's because an improperly filled-out form leads to denials. She also helps people with immigration cases.

"Having to cooperate without the fear of immigration, getting deported," she explained, "or ICE in itself is one of the biggest stressors."

Free time, even weekends, is a fantasy for her. No matter when or where she is, she will get a call with someone needing her services.

Regardless of the flood of calls, she said she enjoys what she does.

Related: Disparities seen in dental care among Latino community; local dentist explains why

"I love what I do; I love helping the community, I love being that point of contact and above everything," Zaragoza said. "I love knowing I have their trust."

Zaragoza said she is starting up a new project to bring English courses to the Latino community for free. Her goal, she said, is to have it set up sometime next year.

The firm is located at 4968 Euclid Road in Virginia Beach. For more information on the firm and what services they provide, visit the HZ Multiservices website or call (757) 904-5072. The firm is open for walk-ins Monday through Friday and by appointment only on Saturdays.