Bright Spot: Local librarians help immigrants

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — "We`re good friends."

This friendship is one that started at the Horn Lake Library. Carson Culver and Marta Smally are librarians but they are not what you would call typical. They don't walk around, organizing and reading books. Instead, they get out in the community.

"We`ve got a technology camp, a robotics camp, a film camp, a girls only camp."

Free camps are what Culver and Smally pride themselves on offering at the Horn Lake Library. This year alone they have 141 programs planned ranging from career building, food giveaways, law enforcement training and more.

"The main idea is to give them opportunities, to give them options," said Smally. "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, just as busy, says she's the president of the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce and is involved in several organizations.

At a time when immigrants are the center of controversial topics, Smally said their focus is to provide a safe space for them.

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

Smally's 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.

"It makes me very emotional just to know that what I do everyday matters to somebody."

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