NEW WINDSOR – Latinos Unidos of the Hudson Valley celebrated its 15th Anniversary and its 11th Annual Hispanic Heritage Cultural Celebration at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor on Friday.
For the past 11 years, the group has invited the Hudson Valley community to share in culture, food, and entertainment during Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s also a time for Latinos Unidos to provide a progress report and the agenda for the upcoming year.
Board member Carmen Vazqueztell, who is one of the five founding members of Latinos Unidos of the Hudson Valley, took time during Friday’s event to explain how the group began. Each of the founders was an advocate for the Hispanic community, providing contacts and resources for the community. They served as translators, writing letters, making calls and accompanying people to appointments with government agencies and court.
The founding five talked for some time about the need for an organization that would provide the support on an on-going basis. And in 2001 they decided to form Latinos Unidos of the Hudson Valley. There had been other organizations, that had come and gone, but they have stood the test of time.
Vazqueztell believes they have survived in part because their mission is straight forward. “We are committed to quality of life issues affecting the Latinos in the Hudson Valley, which ranges a whole gamut of issues and concerns. We have concentrated our efforts on the most pressing issues affecting our community: immigration and immigration reform and serving as a voice for the Latino community.”
The group is also a prime referral service for education, economic development, and housing. They hold ESL classes every Saturday morning at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center on South Williams Street. The group also began a computer literacy program, and prep class for the US Citizenship test.
“Since 2014 we have had 21 students take the test, and pass, and become US citizens,” Vazqueztell said. They have also been a part of the conversations on police and community relations.
The celebration is also the group’s primary source of funding. Money raised is used to pay rent, utilities, operations and putting on workshops, so they don’t have to charge those seeking their assistance.
Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois, City of Newburgh Deputy Mayor Regina Angelo, and Orange County Legislator James Kulisek were a few of the many elected officials in attendance. Each voiced their support of the great work Latinos Unidos is doing in the community.
To learn more about Latinos Unidos of the Hudson Valley, visit www.LatinosUnidosHV.org.