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Secretary for Grupo Latinoamericano and a Spanish and English instructor for the organization. She also teaches Spanish at Ozarks Technical Community College. She is a Spanish interpreter for the Municipal Court of Springfield and a free-lance Spanish interpreter and translator. Lorge is also an associate producer of a weekly program on Ozarks Public Television called "Stone Soup Cafe," which celebrates cultural diversity in the Ozarks. Grupo Latinoamericano is a nonprofit tax-exempt organization with the main purpose of bringing together Hispanic, Latin and North American families to share friendship and help, and to schedule social, cultural and religious activities of mutual interest. The group was formed in 1978. Lorge also serves on several advisory boards and committees, including the Missouri State Committee of Psychologists. She was appointed by Gov. Mel Carnahan to be the public member of that board, which comprises seven psychologists and one public member. The committee oversees and reviews applications, credentials and practices of psychologists serving in Missouri. She is also on the board of the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame.

Age: 47.

No. of years in Springfield/area: 11.

Education: Lorge, originally from Mexico City, Mexico, attended business school in her home country at the Instituto Comercial.

Early career: Lorge's first job was secretarial, for a very large company in Mexico. She said she wasn't that good at typing when she began, but she has always been willing to take a chance and learn something new. "If you don't take that first step, you may never learn anything new or get better at what you already know. It's very important to push yourself to take that first step," Lorge said. She was 18 when she got that first job. She met her husband, Michael, at church while he was serving a two-year mission to Mexico with his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Lorge moved to the United States with her husband when she was 21, and the couple has moved about 37 times while in the United States. It was when her husband, a journeyman lineman, was transferred from Kansas City to Springfield that the Lorges decided to put down roots in Springfield, buying a home and staying. Throughout her life, Lorge has taught languages; she not only teaches her native Spanish and English courses, but has taught French, another language she has studied. She raised her children to be bilingual, and because her family still lives in Mexico, the Lorge family has always taken long vacations to visit Mexico, making the trip every six months.

Current projects: Lorge writes a monthly column for the Springfield News-Leader in which she discusses issues germane to multiculturalism and Latin culture. The programs Grupo Latinoamericano currently offers include English as a second language programs, referrals for finding jobs, interpreting services and transportation. Lorge is also trying to develop new programs in health education, employment, education, housing and community outreach. "Some people who are newly immigrated from Latin America, especially if they come from rural areas, need to know the ground rules of American society. They may need to know how to get a driver's license or how to fill out applications for jobs, for example. They need a course on living with the language that is not necessarily a grammar course," Lorge said.

Personal philosophy: Lorge said that much of the prejudice she has encountered has come from ignorance, and stresses the importance of educating everyone about cultures other than their own, especially young people. "It is very hard to change the mind of an adult, simply because they've had that way of thinking for so long. If you can begin educating children, those concepts will stay with them," Lorge said.

Spare-time pursuits: Lorge likes to read, take part in community festivities, and she leads a choir and dance group. The dance group performs Spanish and Latin American dances and has performed at Artsfest, the Ozark Empire Fair and the recent Multicultural Opportunity Festival.

Family data: She is married to Michael with two children, Alanna, 23, and Carlo, 21, and has a 7-month-old grandchild, Natasha.

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