Nayi Lorick, with her husband in the background, speaks at the HAAC Scholarship Mixer and Fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 25.

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

PLEASANTVILLERafael Arango, the multicultural program specialist for the City of Atlantic City Department of Health and Human Services, hugged Nayi Lorick Saturday and told the crowd at the Latino Restaurant and Bar, 18 S. Main Street, that she was his first-grade teacher.

While everyone shared a good laugh over the revelation during the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County’s Scholarship Fundraiser and Mixer, Arango’s comment drove home the point about education and the powerful influence of positive mentors, who Arango said Lorick served for him.

Highlighting the great culture and leadership in South Jersey’s Hispanic community.

The event served as one of several fundraisers planned by HAAC for its scholarship fund. Lorick, a teacher for more than two decades in Atlantic City schools, is the chair of the committee and the hostess for the event, which was attended by HAAC members and supporters.

READ: HAAC Names 2022 Scholarship Winners

Lorick told Front Runner New Jersey at the event she has been searching for ideas to make the HAAC scholarships the best they can be.

“I got in touch with a friend of mine who is in business,” Lorick said. “I asked him for some guidance, and he spent a great deal of time telling me how we can make this better and how we can improve it.

“I asked for people to come and be a part of the committee. Together, we came up with different things that we wanted to improve, and we’re working towards it.”

Lorick said HAAC has already improved its scholarship offering from $500 per recipient to $1,000.  She said her “rainbows and unicorns” goal is to give away $2,500 in scholarships.

Now with children of her own in higher education and beyond, with one of them becoming a teacher herself, Lorick said she understands firsthand the struggles parents — particularly Latino parents and other parents of color — face in making sure their children get a chance to pursue higher education.

“I want to make education something you feel you really can attain,” Lorick said. “I want to make it attainable to the kids in our community. I’ve been a teacher in Atlantic City for 27 years. I work in that community and I’m available with the parents. I get involved not just in the kids’ schooling but in their lives and I try to meet the needs by networking.”

Bert Lopez, a longtime executive with Atlantic City Electric and president of HAAC, introduced Lorick to the audience before a drawing for gifts. Jessica Grullon, an administrator at Stockton University and vice president of HAAC, took pictures and greeted attendees with Lopez.

One of the unique pieces that was being auctioned off was by artist Jean Pierre Blanchet, who created what he called a Spoken Word Portrait of singer Marc Anthony. Blanchet said he took the words of the subjects to create images of them.

He also had photos of Barack and Michelle Obama and the late singer Prince as well.

Lorick said hopes Saturday’s fundraiser will be a great springboard to future efforts that will move HAAC closer to her “rainbow and unicorn” goal for Latino children seeking higher education throughout Atlantic City.

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