“I think that in order for us to make a change in the world, we need to be the change we want to see in the world,” said Veronica Figueroa, executive director of UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence. “This is very important for us at UNIDOS when we encounter survivors of domestic violence who have been completely demoralized … who have been brought to believe that they have no say and no words and that their voices don’t matter. It’s important for us to hold places for people to make change happen.”

Figueroa spoke passionately about her work after receiving the “Making a Difference Award” at the 7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Celebration Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.

“It’s important for us to believe in ourselves first in order for us to be able to help others and to pull others from the disasters that happen from Texas to Puerto Rico to violence to gun violence to domestic violence to all sources of violence in the world,” she continued. “So I ask all of you to hold those places for people and for you to spread the word of love among the people who suffer these tremendous atrocities in our community. I also ask that we collectively change the world.”

Veronica Figueroa, executive director of UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence, holds up her award surrounded by co-workers and friends.

In observance of the National Hispanic Heritage Month, La Movida 1480AM, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, and the Latino Chamber of Commerce hosted the 7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Celebration. This annual celebration brings together Madison’s Latino community and was once again emceed by Mario Mendoza, who spoke about the unity that this day brings.

“You’ve heard hints of this throughout today’s program. There is a common thread that I believe ties all of us together and that is although that little things may happen far away, we are one way or another connected over the triumphs and the heartaches,” Mendoza told the crowd. “We are all in one way siblings of one another. We stand beside each other both to celebrate and to comfort. Let’s celebrate as one.”

“We do a lot of festivals in the summer, but I look forward to the Hispanic Heritage Month Luncheon and seeing your faces as much as anything,” said Luis Montoto, owner of La Movida Radio. “More than anything else, we love to give important recognition to the important people in our community which is all of you. Thank you for providing all of the services that you provide and for giving us the opportunity to be that bridge for our community.”

Lilliam Post, Bilingual and Educational Coordinator, Catholic Multicultural Center, celebrates her award with Catholic Multicultural Center Executive Director Andy Russell.

The 7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon Celebration was the place to be for Latinos and non-Latino leaders alike in the greater Madison community and also a chance to honor outstanding Madisonians for their work in the community including Lilliam Post, bilingual and educational coordinator for the Catholic Multicultural Center, who was honored with the Believe and Succeed Award.

“La Movida has always provided so much for us in this community. They are a big name in the Latino community,” Post said in Spanish and then in English upon receiving her award. “I want to take this time to acknowledge the Catholic Multicultural Center, too. Today, I feel like there are a lot of Latino-Americans in our community who are afraid to speak up. Latino people come to the Catholic Multicultural Center and they know that we are there for services that they need. We want to make sure that people have food, a job.

“I want to thank everybody who has helped make it possible for me to be here today including my friends,” she added. “We are part of this community together. There are so many people who have helped me in the past to be where I am today including my family, God, and my husband.”

Other awards presented at the 7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon included:
◆ Community Institution of the Year: Madison Metropolitan School District – Jennifer Cheatham, Ed. D., Superintendent
◆ Community Leader of the Year: Jessica Cavazos – President and CEO of the Latino Chamber of Commerce
◆ Hispanic Achievement of the Year: Jason González – Mayor, City of Fitchburg
◆ The Amigo Award: Damon Zumwalt – Owner and Promoter of Los Dells Festival
◆ Hispanic Entrepreneurs of the Year: Dr. Daniel and Scarlett Tataje – Owners of Middleton Family Dental

Shiva Bidar (left) and Julia Arata-Fratta hold their Thank You Trophies

“This award goes out to all of the DREAMers in this room and all of the people affected by DACA,” said Dr. Daniel Tataje upon receiving his award with his wife. “This goes out to all of the immigrants that have dreams. This is a country made for dreamers. Keep working hard and following your dreams because this is a land of opportunity. Thank you for giving us your gifts and your talents to make this nation even greater.”

In a surprise announcement, La Movida and Mid-West Family Broadcasting honored alder people Shiva Bidar and Julia Arata-Fratta with a “Thank You Trophy” for their work over the years.

“It always gives me energy to continue the work that I’m doing when I’m surrounded by all of these great friends and family,” Bidar said. “Thank you to you.”

“It’s an honor to receive this award with Shiva. I love working with the Latino community,” Arata-Fratta said. “Sometimes we have to make hard choices, but we have to keep moving and keeping being passionate about what we do. It’s an honor for me to be here and to continue to work for los derechos Hispanos.”