Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hispanic Heritage Fiesta celebrates unsung heroes and aspiring young writers with Latin fanfare

A May flood victim, a student activist, a school employee, and a priest - these are the unsung heroes that Conexión Américas will recognize with the 2010 Orgullo Hispano (Hispanic Pride) Award this Friday, September 24th at 6:00 p.m. during its eighth annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration.

Francisco Reyes became a neighborhood leader in his mobile-home park community in South Nashville where 43 families --including his own-- lost everything during Nashville's recent historic flood.

Karla Vazquez has tirelessly volunteered and organized other youth to advocate for passage of the DREAM Act, a proposed federal bill that would open a path for immigrant high school graduates to attend college, serve on the military and obtain U.S. citizenship.

Adelina Winston is a vital voice and advocate for Latino parents and children in the local public school system and exemplifies the best of a public servant.

Rev. Joseph P. Breen is the first non-Latino to be honored for his contributions to making Nashville a welcoming community for Latino immigrant families who have come to Nashville in search of a better quality of life.

Conexión Américas will also recognize three young aspiring writers from local high schools for their winning entries in the third annual “My Hispanic Roots, My American Dream” Essay Contest. Arturo Vazquez, from Overton High School and first place winner, will receive a laptop. Cynthia Ramírez, Cane Ridge High School, and Andrea Jacky Gómez, Antioch High School, will be recognized as second and third place winners respectively.

During the awards ceremony, local songwriter James Slater will perform his "Dreaming America" song, written for Conexión Américas, as a tribute to all honorees.

After the awards ceremony, the Hispanic Heritage Fiesta follows at 7:00 p.m through midnight. The highlight of the evening will be a Mascarada carnival featuring original masks made by artisans in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The Mascarada will recreate folk street carnivals popular in Central America.

The fiesta will also feature authentic Latin American food by local chef Karla Ruiz, live Latin music by Kazique, original artwork by Jairo Prado, and cash bar.

Event tickets are $40 per person in advance (through or $50 per person at the door.

Conexion Americas is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Latino families realize their aspirations for social and economic advancement by promoting their integration to the Middle Tennessee community. During Hispanic Heritage Month, observed nationwide from September 15 to October 15, Conexion Americas celebrates the presence, contributions and rich cultural heritage of Latinos in Tennessee and in the United States.

I am a member of the board of directors of Conexion Americas. Conexion Americas also advertises on

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