PAY IT FORWARD

Woman keeps culture alive through volunteerism

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Kathi Soria started Ballet Folklorico Esperanza. (Source: KPHO) Kathi Soria started Ballet Folklorico Esperanza. (Source: KPHO)
(Source: KPHO) (Source: KPHO)
Susan Guthrie surprises Kathi Soria in this week's Pay It Forward. (Source: KPHO) Susan Guthrie surprises Kathi Soria in this week's Pay It Forward. (Source: KPHO)
(Source: KPHO) (Source: KPHO)
AVONDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

Keeping culture alive for the children of Phoenix has been one woman's mission for nearly two decades. 

“She’s not getting rich out of it, but definitely spiritually, that’s all she needs,” said Susan Guthrie, Kathi Soria’s long-time friend.

Guthrie said it is hard to keep track of all the things Kathi does for the community. 

“She’s done this for many many years and she’s touched many lives,” Guthrie said. 

Soria started Ballet Folklorico Esperanza, a non-profit teaching and keeping traditional Mexican dances alive in Phoenix. 

As founder of the Christmas Smiles Foundation, every December Soria gets donated gifts for children in Avondale, who in some cases, would get nothing at all.

In most of group's photos you will not see Soria, and Guthrie said that is because she never makes it about her, only the children. 

But this time, that all changes. 

Guthrie told Soria she was getting a day at the spa but instead she surprised her with $500 for all she has done for the community. 

Soria said traditional dance is not just about educating kids about the past, but also giving them skills for the future. 

"So many of them are shy, and it brings out a personality they didn’t know they had,” she said. 

As for her giving spirit, she does not know any other way. 

And she continued to do so even after hearing Pay it Forward was awarding her money she could spend as she pleases. 

Soria said she is going to give it right back to the children she's worked decades to help. 

Copyright 2016 KPHO (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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