"Gradually, more Hispanics are finding their place in roles throughout the community, in the police and fire department, hospitals," said Wolfe, who has been at San Juan Bautista since 1997. "It's a gradual growing into the various components of our society."
A wave of immigration has fueled the surging Latino population.
"For me — my cousins convinced me to come. Maybe the money wasn't great, but it was secure," said Javier Segura, an Oaxaca, Mexico, native who arrived in Mount Joy in 1991 to wash dishes at a local restaurant, joining only a few other Latino families living in the town at the time.
Segura scraped all of his earnings together and, in 2004, opened "El Pueblito," a small grocery shop that initially floundered on word-of-mouth advertising. The shop has outgrown the growing clientele, and Segura, who lives in Lititz, is relocating to a larger location.
"Thank God it has provided a way of life," said Segura, who, along with wife Selena, became a U.S. citizen in 2001. Their four children were born in the U.S. "We had not thought we would stay here, but now our kids are growing up and it's difficult (to leave)."
As much as Segura represents this thriving Latino community, a large sector of Lancaster Latinos traces family back for generations.
"The Latino population is not only diverse, it runs the continuum of people who are very traditional and speak only Spanish to those more mainstream who speak only English," said Lillian Escobar-Haskins, a writer and researcher of the state's Latino population.
In a recent study, Escobar-Haskins, director for policy for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, found Latinos have been coming to Lancaster for decades since the mid-20th century. A third of Latinos, she found, were English-only speakers, and only 20 percent needed bilingual services.
"In reality, Latinos are acculturating just like other populations that came before. We just happen to be new," she said.
Escobar-Haskins, who was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents and moved to Lancaster in 1977, said Latinos in Lancaster County account for a large part of the working poor, largely concentrated in the city, where public services are available. Yet as families gain financial stability and means, they have moved out to the suburbs.
"You have a lot of successful Latinos, but they are the invisible population," Escobar-Haskins said. "People who don't know Latinos just see this population — the visible one — and form opinions based on that. And it tends to be a stereotype."