My Evening with La Voz Latina!!

This past week I had the tremendous honor of attending Rockford’s very own La Voz Latina’s annual banquet.  I didn’t know about the event until the day before.  That Monday as I read through a local newspaper, I saw a small article detailing the next day’s La Voz Latina event, how the guest speaker will be a former NASA astronaut, and how during the event several Hispanic leaders in the community will be recognized for their achievements.

Since this is National Hispanic Heritage Month, I really wanted to attend. Since it was short notice I didn’t think I could get a seat.  So that evening when speaking with Rudy Valdez, a board member for La Voz Latina, he mentioned to me that “all seats for this event were taken. However if one should become available, I’ll let you know”.

Well, I thought, there goes that idea.  I never expected to hear back from him since the event was the very next day.  But as things turn out, the following morning I get a call from Mr. Valdez at 10 in the morning, informing me that someone declined to go and there was a seat available for me.  Since I was an employee of Hamilton Sundstrand, the event would be free!  How could I possibly turn this down?  Of course I didn’t!

The event was tremendous.  As soon as I walked into the huge ballroom at Cliffbreakers I was met with hundreds of well dressed people and live Latin music!  The atmosphere was lively and festive as this was not your average, run of the mill, dinner; this was more of a party atmosphere. Since I was a late attendee I had the dubious honor of sitting at a table with various aldermen of Rockford, as well as the city fire chief and police chief.

Once the dinner began, I was treated to a two course meal of Latin inspiration.  The first course was Sancocho (Latin chicken stew) which was spicy, full of cilantro and other various spices, resulting in a very delicious appetizer.  Next on the menu was Cochinita Pibil (Yucatan Style Pork and Rice) a dish of slow roasted pork and rice was just as good as the chicken stew.  Both dishes were new to me and were outstanding!  After dinner, there were sweet breads, coffee, and Mexican hot chocolate to round out the meal.

Once everyone was feasting on roasted pork and chicken stew the speaker of the evening was introduced.  NASA Astronaut Michael McCulley, a decorated naval officer who served on three naval submarines, flew over 50 different types of aircraft, and piloted space shuttle orbiter Atlantis which deployed the Galileo spacecraft on its journey to Jupiter.  He gave an inspiring and very entertaining speech on the importance of role models and how each of us has the ability to mentor to people.  He talked about how being a mentor first starts with compassion and the desire to reach out and help those in need. Anyone at any age can be a mentor or role model to someone.  He used his experiences in college and in the navy as a example of how he himself used mentors and role models and how strong an impact they made on his life; from Eagle Scout leaders to members in the service he owed a tremendous amount of his success to role models and mentors.

But to me the highlight of the evening (besides the delicious food) was the Latinos of Distinction Award Winners for 2010.  During this event La Voz Latina’s Board of Directors recognized outstanding leaders from Rockford, ranging from various walks of life who exemplify the characteristics of positive role models.  It was a diverse group representing diverse age groups, gender, and employment backgrounds.

The 2010 La Voz Latina’s Latinos od Fistinction Award Winners are:

Manuel Acuna, systems engineer, Hamilton Sundstrand

Francisca Amador, VP of Business Development, Blackhawk Bank

Marisol Benitez-Prieto, Manager, Blackhawk Bank

Manuel Carrasquillo, Chief Operating Officer, Lifescape Community Services

Aurelio Del La Rosa, Police Officer, City of Rockford, and Civic Volunteer

Maria Delgado, Blackhawk Bank

Luis Duran, Lieutenant Firefighter, City of Rockford

Mireya Gloria, student, and full time employee, Blackhawk Bank

Luz Ramirez, Special assistant to Superintendent Sheffield, Rockford School District

Corina Rios Jackson, Retired teacher, Rockford Public Schools

Isabella Rodriguez, Doctor of Pharmacy, currently trains Rockford-area students to become Pharmacy Technicians.

If I were to write their combined contributions, you wouldn’t be able to finish this blog post.  But trust me their contributions are truly inspiring.  As all award winners ascended the stage and received their awards they were met with standing ovations from everyone in attendance.

All in all it was truly a remarkable event and an experience I will never forget.  I’m happy that I was able to attend and experience the speeches, to meet and network with the important decision makers in the city of Rockford and enjoy great food and music!

-Darold Ingram

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~ by daroldingram on October 13, 2010.

One Response to “My Evening with La Voz Latina!!”

  1. What a great experience, Darold! I’m so glad you ended up being able to attend and then share your evening with us.

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