Hispanics helping to make a better community

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 11:13 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re highlighting Hispanics who help improve the community. We spoke to a business owner helping Latinos get checked for cancer and more.

Andrea Arenas knows the value of an opportunity.

Born in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, Arenas came to the U.S. when she was six and got her worker’s permit in 2016 through DACA, starting her own business in 2020.

Andrea Arenas is a business owner who looks to help out Latinos in the community. Outside of owning her insurance agency, she does this through Spanish interpreting and nonprofit work that helps incorporate Latinos into spaces where they haven’t been represented, particularly in health care, especially for the undocumented.

“They are 80 percent more likely to die of cancer because they don’t have the money to pay for the treatments, or they wait till the last minute to do it, so their cancer is too far along to get treatment,” said Arenas.

Arenas and Karla Escorca head the Wyoming Latino Cancer Association, which they started last year after realizing a gap in community care.

Karla’s mother was diagnosed with cancer but could not access resources because she was undocumented.

“I applied for many things, for the cancer society, for federal and on the state, and there is no help for people like my mom,” said Escorca.

Arenas and Escorca have worked for the Wyoming Breast Cancer Initiative and other nonprofits before helping to organize over 600 volunteers.

They are currently working with the state to allow free cancer testing for undocumented folks.

“We are part of the community, we are here, so I think everybody should care for their neighborhoods or for the other people,” said Escorca.

Arenas said the undocumented pay taxes, contributing to businesses and the community. It’s scary for her to think it could all be taken away.

“They are people like me. At some point, I was undocumented, and it’s scary to say that out loud, but it’s true. Until I was able to be liberated, I’ve been able to do a lot for the community,” says Arenas.

Arenas says her next project is working with the Kiwanis organization, organizing an auction to help raise funds for the Cheyenne community.