OSSINING – New York State Senator Pete Harckham commemorated Hispanic Heritage Month this week by honoring five outstanding members of the community during a special ceremony at the Ossining Public Library that drew an audience of more than 50 people.
“I congratulate our honorees for their hard work and continued achievements,” Harckham said. “Their success strengthens our communities and serves as an inspiration to countless residents as well. The honorees represent an enduring part of our country’s ever-evolving immigrant story, which has contributed so much to the rich diversity of our district, state and country. Their efforts have helped countless Hispanic newcomers integrate more seamlessly into our communities and become engaged residents.”
The award recipients are:
Dr. Madeline Diamond is the director of Multilingual Programs & World Languages at the Peekskill City School District. An advocate for multilingual learners and their families, she is committed to the communities she serves and has a strong drive to inspire immigrant children to make their American dreams come true. Dr. Diamond has served on the Westchester County Executive’s Hispanic and Latinx Advisory Council, influencing policy involving thousands of families.
Noya Guerrero is the Client Services Manager at the Community Center of Northern Westchester, where she helps people facing hardships and daily struggles. Drawing from her experiences after immigrating to the United States in 1990, she has helped newly arrived immigrants. She understands struggles faced by immigrants and individuals enduring difficult times. Guerrero’s dedication to the Community Center has extended beyond her own commitment while engaging her three teenage sons in volunteer work to help them “keep in touch with the real world,” she said.
Ana Guzman is the Executive Director and one of the founders of Ossining Padres Hispanos, an organization that began in 2015 as a Facebook page to help unify the community. Guzman has worked to improve the lives of hundreds of individuals and families by organizing food distributions and establishing a location in Ossining where the underserved and immigrant community can obtain clothing, housewares, toiletries and other goods.
Dolores Vidal Roy is the coordinator of Mount Kisco Providers, a professional group dedicated to developing strategies and plans to better serve the growing Latino community. As Coordinator, she is a driving force behind the organization’s programs, offering her professional assistance and skills when needed. Vidal Roy helped found the organization after recognizing the need for services tailored to the Latino population.
Ricardo Orellana is a pioneer: he established the first Hispanic-owned business in Mahopac 20 years ago. An inspiration to the entire Latino community in Putnam County, Orellana immigrated from La Libertad, El Salvador, in 1989, seeking the promise of the American Dream. He began working as a dishwasher and eventually became a cook at Reader’s Digest. Years later, Ricardo established Rincon Latino Café Deli in Mahopac, which continues to thrive as a popular family-owned business.
Harckham also presented a New York State Empire Award to the Orellana family to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their business, Rincon Latino Deli Café, the first Hispanic-owned business in Mahopac.
Following the presentation of the Senate proclamations, the awardees were given an opportunity to offer thanks to family members, friends and colleagues, many who were in attendance at the event.
“I truly appreciate this honor because it is a humbling experience to provide such necessary services for students and their families,” said Dr. Diamond. “I look forward to continuing my advocacy for the Hispanic community in the years ahead.”
“I share this honor with the many clients I have worked with and the volunteers who are always around and ready to help,” said Guerrero. “Being part of this ceremony and hearing about my fellow honorees makes me so proud to be a Latino.”
“Receiving this award is a happy and proud moment for me because I know how difficult and hard the work has been over the years,” said Orellana. “But this is a country where you can get to a place in life where you want to be.”
Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of the U.S. Hispanic communities. The celebration, which spans from September 15 to October 15, commemorates how those communities have influenced and contributed to American society at large. Initially planned for October 5, the 40th Senate District Hispanic Heritage celebration needed to be rescheduled to October 22 because of a family emergency among the participants.
Pete Harckham represents the 40th Senate District, which includes the towns of Carmel, Kent, Patterson and Southeast, and the village of Brewster in Putnam County; the town of Stony Point in Rockland County; and the city of Peekskill, the towns of Bedford, Cortlandt, Lewisboro, New Castle, North Salem, Somers and Yorktown, the town / village of Mount Kisco and Ossining, and the villages of Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan and Croton-on-Hudson in Westchester County.