Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrates Compassion, Collaboration
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Hailey Mayor Martha Burke chats with the Mexican Consulate director and vice director during the unveiling of the Hailey Action Committee/W.A.T.E.R. mural.
   
Thursday, October 15, 2020
 

STORY BY LUIS ALBERTO LECANDA

PHOTO BY ELIZABETH JEFFREY

 Deep emotion runs through Dolores Vega when she thinks about the wide spectrum of contributions and influence of Hispanics in American culture and society.

She’s proud of the way that extraordinary individuals of Hispanic descent, from Nobel Peace Prize winners to astronauts, film directors, doctors, military veterans, musicians, and a Supreme Court Justice, have helped shape the United States.

 However, it is reminiscing about an individual closer to home that means even more as she’s joined others in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, the annual, nationwide observation from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

 “I think about my mother,” Vega recalls, “And how her compassion and love for those in need always took priority over herself. Although she was in need, she cared for family and neighbors alike. She was so kind-hearted she even took care of an elderly neighbor with no family and even paid for his funeral upon passing on. These are values we--my siblings and I--have carried forward in our lives.” 

 Stories like these are what Hispanic Heritage Month in Wood River Valley is meant to celebrate, says Herbert Romero, co-chair of the month’s events. “We are here to recognize those stories that might not make the national headlines but make our valley a special place. From my experience, this builds unity in our community.” 

 The desire to bring forth Hispanic Heritage Month events that would draw interest across all segments and demographics and promote inclusivity led Romero to create the inaugural event in 2018. His pitch for creating the event drew the immediate and enthusiastic support of Chamber Director Mike McKenna, now-Hailey Mayor Martha Burke, former Blaine County School District spokesperson Heather Crocker, Flourish Foundation’s Ryan Redman and the owners of Hailey Coffee Co. and Lago Azul.

 The support for the observation of Hispanic Heritage Month continues to this day on the County and City level with formal proclamations delivered for Hispanic Heritage Month by the Blaine County Board of Commissioners and the city councils of Hailey, Ketchum and Bellevue. 

 “I had the honor to read the Hispanic Heritage Proclamation of Sun Valley, and I added my own personal message in Spanish,” said Sun Valley Council Member Jane Reister Conard. “I decided to share in Spanish as my way to recognize and admire the contributions of the Hispanic people. Many people of Peru and the Basque region are here, as residents of multiple generations. The majority of people in this area have come from other places, and it's crucial to recognize that. It is our heritage now.”

It is important to recognize and celebrate the richness of cultures in the community, added  Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw: “We attract a wide range of people, adding interest, diversity and an infusion of new ideas. Increasingly, the Hispanic population is important to the community, economy, and general welfare. I appreciate the vitality Hispanics bring to our valley.” 

Vitality, liveliness, and exuberance have been on full display during events held during Hispanic Heritage Month.  

 The events launched on Sept. 15 and conclude tonight—Oct. 15--at 5 p.m. at Ketchum’s Limelight Hotel in Ketchum. Tonight’s event will include celebratory music performances, including mariachi singers, and special guest speakers from around the state who will talk about the importance of the Hispanic voice and getting the vote out, said Tammy Davis, the co-chair of Hispanic Heritage Month.

 They will also celebrate Hispanic women in business and of the colorful culture. The event is open to the public but attendance will be limited due to COVID.

 Several individuals and organizations that have contributed to the Hispanic community were honored during Hispanic Heritage Month. They are:

  • Consul of Mexico in Boise
  • Ricardo Gerardo Higuera
  • Sun Valley Institute
  • Blaine County Recovery Committee
  • Blaine County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg
  • Kiki Tidwell
  • Gwen Carol Holmes, Blaine County School District superintendent
  • Silver Creek School, Wood River Middle School and Wood River High School
  • Susy Rios, IWBC Statewide Outreach Director
  • Margie Gonzales, executive director, Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs
  • Hailey Climate Action Coalition, Janes Artifacts and W.A.T.E.R. Club at Wood River High School

 One of the Hispanic Heritage Months events that manifested significant intersectionality among cultures, environmental sustainability, age groups, economic equality, and community stewardship was that of the unveiling of the Wood River High School W.A.T.E.R. Club’s community mural at Jane’s Artifacts in Hailey.

 According to Elizabeth Jeffrey, chair of the Hailey Climate Action Coalition, the mural represents intersectional environmentalism, which is a combination of advocacy for social equality and environmental justice and protection.

 Ricardo Gerardo Higuera, from the Consulate of Mexico in Boise, spoke eloquently about the ecosystem and culture: “Without a thriving natural environment, communities cannot flourish to the highest potential of cultural diversity and overall progress. The well-being of our environment is the core essential foundation of life.”

 Higuera said the Consulate of Mexico in Boise supported the event as an extension of the largest environmental government-funded project on the globe this year. And he told how, recently, the country of Mexico launched, Siembra Vida, to transform 2,471,052 acres of land and sow several hundred thousand seeds, creating over 400,000 jobs.

 “We want to make certain the community in Wood River Valley understands our environmental and cultural stewardship is important to us. We continue to encourage the community with Mexican heritage to be involved as much as possible in this type of leadership,” he added. 

 Conard added that Hispanics need to make sure they are represented in government.

 “Hispanics are the future leaders of our county,” she said. “I remember meeting Leo Morales, executive director of the ACLU, and he pointed out that there are many organizations in 5B without diverse representation. Everyone must work side by side to be more effective.”

 

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