Fiesta of Hope luncheon
On Friday, June 16th, we attended Esperanza's 2017 "Fiesta of Hope" luncheon in the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel Ballroom.
We have written about Esperanza before and mentioned its mission several times in this blog but we believe it is so important that we are going to state it again which is "to improve the academic achievement of Hispanics in Greater Cleveland by supporting students to graduate high school and promoting post-secondary educational attainment."
Its vision is to accomplish this "by motivating academic achievement, enhancing the quality of economic and community life, promoting continuity of community through leadership, offering enriched educational services and opportunities, and providing scholarship assistance."
The highlight of the luncheon was hearing the testimonies of five students who immigrated to the United States from Hispanic countries who talked about how much their families, their communities, their schools and Esperanza helped them to master the English language and to succeed academically and socially in their new environments.
Accordingly we extend our respect and our best wishes to Miss Yolenny, Vasquez who plans to pursue a career in international business; Miss Catherine Sesa who eventually would like to teach Spanish at the college level; Mr. Joseph Latorre who wants to go to major in criminology in college and then serve in our U.S. Armed Forces as a military police officer with the ultimate goal of becoming an F.B.I. agent; Miss Erika Perez Garcia who is eager to someday be a nurse; and, finally, Ms. Yoly Rodriguez who will study to be a chemical engineer and, along with her parents, was interviewed on stage for a few minutes by the emcee, Mr. Russ Mitchell of WKYC-TV.
When we arrived we noticed that several of the students wore a red ribbon signifying that they were part of the "Lideres Avanzando Program." We asked Ms. Felicia Soto-Martir, Assistant Director of Esperanza, about this and was told that it is a new venture developed by the National Council of La Raza, that helps college freshmen and sophomores "navigate" their way through the challenging higher education process with the ultimate goal of ensuring that they graduate. Ms. Soto-Martir said that "Lideres Avanzando" has been an excellent success thus far and its participants held a car wash to raise the monies to pay for a younger student to attend this luncheon.
Besides the testimonies of the five promising and determined students, we also heard speeches from Mr. Victor Ruiz, Executive Director of Esperanza, who paid tribute to Mr. Julio Cesar "Cesi" Castro, a prominent merchant and outstanding supporter who passed away earlier in the week and Mr. David Proano, President of the Esperanza Board of Directors, who said that there has been a lot of progress made by establishing quality educational options for Hispanics but a lot of work needs to be done. He contended that we "need to dream big" for our community and that the "Fiesta of Hope" luncheon was an outstanding celebration of the work and the progress made thus far and what is planned for the future.
The gathering concluded with the acknowledgement of the scholarship recipients in which Ms. Soto-Martir read the names and Mayor Frank Jackson distributed certificates to 96 (!) hard-working and deserving young people.
Outside of the ballroom, photographs and quotes from a few of the scholarship recipients were posted. We could particularly relate to one of these quotes because it was so honest and human and it read, "I am still not the perfect student with astonishing grades and attendance but because of Esperanza, I am in a better position than I was before."
Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC