Hola mis amigos
September is here, and a portion of this month and part of October are dedicated to acknowledging the contributions of our nation’s Hispanic Americans.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence Sept. 16, and Chile on Sept. 18. The monthlong celebration ends Oct. 15.
There are some local events scheduled this month that will embrace the heritage of the Latino community as well as the philanthropic efforts of one group.
On Sept. 12, Latinas United Networking Association will have its fifth anniversary gala and scholarship fundraiser at Byzantine Center at the Grove, 3801 Shady Run Road, Youngstown.
L.U.N.A. is a nonprofit organization of professional Hispanic women founded in 2003. Its motto is “Expanding the horizons of Latin women and youth.”
The event, which will include dinner and wine tasting, is from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person. The group will award three $500 scholarships.
L.U.N.A. board members are: Marilyn Montes, chairwoman; Wilma Torres, secretary; and members at large, Grimilda Ocasio, Jennifer Betts and Sara Cuevas.
In June, the group received a $5,000 grant from the John Wean Foundation to implement a program called Honoring Our Latin Americans. The general focus of HOLA will be to target Hispanic youths in grades 10-12.
In its newsletter, L.U.N.A. said it would provide the students and their families an avenue to participate in forums to identify and discuss the issues and concerns they have in education, health and employment in Youngstown.
The group also will assist the students and their parents in identifying community resources available to them.
L.U.N.A. will compile a report on the forum results and make them available to local agencies and schools. The group also will use the foundation funds to compile a resource guide for Latino students and their parents who attend the forums.
For more information on obtaining tickets for the fundraiser, contact the L.U.N.A. office, 101 E. Federal St., Suite 300 B, at (330) 259-0323, or board members Betts at (330) 503-8419 or Cuevas at (330) 272-4699.
Youngstown State University also is preparing events to celebrate Hispanic achievements.
Alvaro Rami rez, a YSU alumnus and assistant professor of modern languages at St. Mary’s College of California, will give the keynote address at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center. It is free and open to the public.
The celebration theme is “The Legacy of Hispanics in the Mahoning Valley.”
The Sept. 19 event will include a flag ceremony, with area Hispanic college students displaying heritage flags from 22 Hispanic countries, display tables, a dance presentation featuring “Flamenco Fuerte,” recognition of student achievements in the local Hispanic community and dancing to the music of disc jockey Kenny Reyes Productions.
Rami rez, who is from Mexico, received a bachelor’s degree from YSU in 1982, a master’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1985 and a doctorate in Spanish Golden Age and 20th Century Latin American Literature in 1993.
He joined St. Mary’s in 1993 and is working on a book on Mexican culture.
The university also will host a workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 18 on the fifth floor of Maag Library called “Dispelling Myths about Latinos and Latin American Heritage.” Dr. Mehera Gerardo will serve as moderator.
Contact YSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity to get more information on other planned Hispanic Heritage Month events.