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Latino Business League

On Saturday evening, December 1st, we traveled to The Salvation Army on Market Avenue to attend the 2018 annual Gala of the Latino Business League, Inc.

As our program notes read, the Latino Business League, Inc. is a nonprofit organization based in Canton, Ohio, "committed to promoting the advancement and development of the Latino Community of Northeast Ohio, by identifying,  establishing and supporting small business opportunities as well as facilitating cultural and educational exchanges with the community at large in Summit, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties."

Thus, the areas the Latino Business League focuses on economic development, health and education, as well as community enhancement and the provision of leadership.

 Ms. Lilibeth Rodriguez and Dr. Sea Grist

Ms. Lilibeth Rodriguez and Dr. Sea Grist

Along these lines, when Miss Lilibeth Rodriguez received an award for being "Student of the Year" she spoke of how those in the Latino Business League had mentored her in the process of obtaining the financial aid that she needed in order to attend college. Her goal is to become a nurse, and, since she is bilingual, Ms. Rodriguez truly has the potential to make a difference.

Margaret W. Wong and Associates, LLC was a Gold Sponsor for this event and Mr. Al Carranza, who founded the organization ten years ago, expressed his heartfelt thanks for our contribution.

While we were there, we particularly enjoyed visiting with our good friend, Ms. Monique Cox-Moore who is the Statewide Minority Outreach Coordinator for the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State. Ms. Cox-Moore acted as emcee during the evening program and we were pleased to learn that she will retain her position with the Secretary of State when the new administration assumes power in 2019.

 Mr. Rafael Rodriguez

Mr. Rafael Rodriguez

The highlight of the program was an address by Mr. Rafael Rodriguez of the Stark County Economic Development Board in which he discussed the progress that Latinos have made over the years in Summit County and the surrounding areas. To be sure, Mr. Rodriguez was optimistic about the future as he urged the mainstream to continue its awareness of how much Latinos have to offer and urged those there who were Latino to continue to embrace their culture and values of family, hard work, respect for authority, and personal dignity but avoid being entrapped by cultural enclaves.

In short, Mr. Rodriguez believed (as do we) that progress must be a communal effort and that by working together great results can be achieved.

This viewpoint was echoed by the speeches given by other local dignitaries in the course of the evening like Mayor Tom Bernabei of Canton; Mayor Kathy Catazaro of Massillon; Stark County Commissioner Richard Regula; Ohio State Representative Thomas West (District 49); Canton City Councilperson Corey Minor-Smith; Ms. Jenna Bucklew, Fair Housing Manager for Canton; and Dr. Denise A. Seachrist, Dean and Chief Administrative Officer at Stark in North Canton.

Indeed, during a PowerPoint presentation, a slide was shown that contained the passage:

"As Latinos we are not only 'here to work'. We are here to give back to the community, teach them from our culture, we are here to make history like many other immigrants that came before us."

We were especially heartened when Mayor Bernabei, a longtime public official, said that he was troubled by some of the very negative things that had recently been said about Latinos by other political leaders because his own experience had taught him that Latinos were a very hard-working and very law-abiding people.

Justin Faulhaber