CULA Group Photo.jpg

Pictured above (from left) are the group's President Francesca Hagarty, Food Pantry Manager Lorena Cervantes, Treasurer Lilly Aguilar, Office Manager Rubi Mar and Executive Director Kathy Arriota

The nonprofit Centro Unido Latino-Americano (CULA) has received a financial boost that will allow the organization reach more people.

CULA, located in space provided by First Presbyterian Church at 79 Academy St., Marion, is a nonprofit organization that has programs, offers services and makes connections with other agencies to assist the Latino community in McDowell.

The group’s main focus maybe the Latino community, but they welcome anyone to their office who is in need of help. CULA’s vision is “a world where everyone is aware and able to receive health, food, transportation and other services from their community, regardless of demographic features,” according to Executive Director, Kathy Arriola.

CULA offers a food pantry every other Thursday, a pre-diabetes program, free prints and copies, translation and interpretations of most documents or paperwork and assists with calls to medical, dental, or school appointments for Spanish speakers to help overcome language barriers.

CULA recently received a grant from Resourceful Communities’ Creating New Economies Fund for $13,100. It will go toward CULA’s new program “Vida Activa” or “Active Living.”

Vida Activa will be a three-month program that offer exercise classes for adults, roller skating for youth, a walking group in McDowell and Burke counties and a hike at a local state park.

The program will also host two workshops educating the Latino community on the importance of a healthy lifestyle by covering different topics such as diabetes, heart diseases and chronic diseases.

There will outdoor and indoor activities and group exercise available to young people and adults in McDowell and Burke counties. They hope to accommodate at least 30 individuals.

Another recent grant — $6,000 from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s People in Need program — will help purchase better quality and quantity food for the organization’s pantry. In addition, a donation from McDowell Local Food Advisory Council of $200 will help purchase local farm food.

Also, CULA received $2,000 from the Gateway Wellness Foundation to support the program’s mission.

For more information on CULA and their programs, you can visit, email at or call at 828-652-0727.

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