County proclaims Hispanic Heritage Month
Washington County's largest ethnic minority has won recognition from the county board of commissioners, which has proclaimed Sept. 15-Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month.
The board approved similar proclamations earlier this year for African Americans and Asian Americans.
According to the U.S. Census and county figures, Hispanics — who can be of any race — constitute 16.8 percent of the population and 11 percent of the county government workforce.
Chairman Andy Duyck signed a blown-up copy of the proclamation at the board's Sept. 18 business meeting.
He said in a videotaped greeting watched by employees and others afterward:
"I'd like us all to remember that our strength is found in the many respects that our different voices and points of view help to support healthy, peaceful, safe and sustainable communities. Especially in the coming month, let's focus on the many ways Hispanics have enriched and shaped our community for generations and their significant contributions to the cultural, educational, economic and political vitality of Washington County."
Duyck was joined by Maria Caballero-Rubio, executive director of Centro Cultural de Washington County; Maribel De Leon, director of microenterprise programs at Adelante Mujures; Gracie Garcia, resident services director of Bienestar Corp., and Gil Muñoz, chief executive of Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center.
"Making a better life is still part of the immigrant story," Muñoz said.
Commissioner Dick Schouten said all four organizations have teamed up with the county on numerous programs and projects.
"All of you have done important work to make this a better county for all of us," Schouten said.
Commissioner Bob Terry, when he still ran plant nurseries that employed 700 at their peak, said he worked closely with Centro Cultural and Virginia Garcia. Both agencies began in the 1970s, but were still emerging as Terry came to Oregon two decades later.
"You have done a super job coalescing into the county and the community," Terry said. "We have come a long way."
Terry also was a cofounder of A Child's Place, a multicultural and bilingual preschool program that was the forerunner to Head Start.
Terry injected one political observation when he said he has watched the growth of many descendants from Latino immigrants. The fate of those who were brought to the United States illegally as children, a group known as "dreamers," remains in limbo at the federal level.
"These kids need to be our citizens," he said. "It's silly what we are talking about. It shouldn't even be an issue. I hope we will get that accomplished."
Terry and Commissioner Greg Malinowski attended a lunchtime celebration, where the more than 100 attendees heard from Caballero-Rubio and four county employees. They were Isidro Andrade of Land Use and Transportation; Jacob Rosales of Housing Services; Estela Guillen of the District Attorney's Office, and Martin Blasco of Cooperative Library Services. Annabelle Carlos of the Sheriff's Office was the emcee.
Joaquin Lopez of Portland performed "I Am the Music."
Watch the videotaped message from Andy Duyck, Washington County board chairman, for Hispanic Heritage Month: