DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A nonprofit is working to provide Latino and Hispanic individuals with professional development and networking opportunities in the greater Harrisburg area and beyond. It’s a mission that started almost 20 years ago.

“We started back in 2004. A group of about 10 Latino-Hispanics started getting together because of the need of having recognition for Latino-Hispanics in this area,” said Yolanda Perez-Rivera. In 2007, this became the Latino Hispanic Professional Association, or LHPA. Perez-Rivera is a co-founder and board member of the organization.

“The main intention was for us to help the younger professionals, those professionals who have Latino-Hispanic backgrounds who are here in this country as immigrants and many times very well-educated, talented professionals, but they don’t have that time and opportunity to go to someone to gain support at the beginning of their journey,” said Hector Ortiz, another LHPA co-founder.

“On the other side, we have people who are born here, people who are Americans like anyone else, but have a stigma that may be considered different because they have a different accent, because they have a different name, because they have a different background,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz says it is about giving Latino-Hispanic community members resources to better start or continue careers in any field.

The current president of LHPA, Raffy R. Luquis, said the nonprofit has provided seminars and webinars for community members.

Something both founders wanted to see in the community — and still do want to see — is multiculturalism.

“The Latino-Hispanic group is not just one culture, it’s a multiple of cultures, a multiple of differences, but united with some common history, common language, and common pairing of behaviors,” Ortiz said.

“We come from different backgrounds, but we are here in the same boat with the same dreams, same intentions,” said Ortiz.