Bright Spot: DeSoto County librarians helping immigrants

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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — Two DeSoto County librarians are leading the charge in helping local immigrants find a safe space.

Free camps are what Carson Culver and Marta Smally pride themselves on offering at the Horn Lake library.

"We've got a technology camp, a robotics camp, a film camp, a girls-only camp," Culver said.

This year alone they have 141 programs planned, ranging from career building, food giveaways, law enforcement training, and the list goes on.

"The main idea is to give them opportunities, to give them options," Smally said. "Yes, it's great to go to a four year college but sometimes they can't afford it, or sometimes they don't feel they are ready for it, so if we give them a different option they know, 'I can continue on. I don't have to just quit after high school.'"

The two have a packed agenda every day of the week. Smally speaks six languages, homeschools five kids and works at a resource center.

Culver is just as busy. She's the president of the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce and organizer of several organizations and boards.

In a time where immigrants are the center of controversial topics, Smally focuses on providing a safe space for them.

"My goal is to teach these people, it is possible. It is possible to make it," she said.

Her mother was an immigrant herself, so she can relate to the hardships. She teaches kids and adults how to communicate and live in a country they are not from.

"Sometimes when we walk in we have two or three moms waiting — 'Teacher can you translate this to me? Teacher can you help me? Can you help me fill our paperwork for immigration?'"

The feeling of being a help to adults and children in DeSoto County is what makes these women keep coming back.

 

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