Madison’s Spanish-language radio station, La Movida, hosted the annual Radiothon in support of Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC) on the South Side of Madison on Friday from noon until 6 p.m.
La Movida Director of Promotions Lupita Montoto rushed across the hall to greet listeners prepared to pledge a donation over the phone while her husband and Program Director Luis Montoto manned the station from their mobile studio inside of CMC’s common area. The Montotos, founders of La Movida Radio, started the fundraiser about seven years ago.
“A lot has changed. This place has more services than it did before,” Lupita Montoto said.
The Montotos moved to Madison in the late 90s, and the CMC played an important role as they acclimated to their new community. Luis Montoto enrolled in computer classes while Lupita learned English at the center. They used many of the CMC’s services as they began their family.
“Some people call this a home away from home,” CMC Director Andy Russell said.
Luis said his wife would get her maternity clothes from the center. The couple gained a community through the center and decided to use the radio station which they founded almost 19 years ago to spread awareness of the center and give back.
“For us, it’s been an important place,” Luis Montoto said.
After entering the center as clients, he and his wife began volunteering at the center which offers services including a computer, immigration services, job assistance and other useful programs.
“We have many, many ESL [English as a second language] classes. We have a food pantry too,” Russell said.
He said the CMC has been around since the 1940s, moving to their current location around the 50s. The CMC began as a center for interracial community services but almost ten years ago the center briefly shut down after a change in management. The center reopened within months and eventually grew, renovating the building. Luis remembers the old building.
“In the winter, you had to keep your coat on and in the summer, you sweat a lot,” he said.
The Radiothon fundraiser began as a way to raise funds for the center while increasing awareness within the Spanish-speaking community, as well as the community at large. Lupita said the first year, they met their goal of raising money to improve the computer lab. In recent years, the Radiothon assisted the CMC in expanding immigration services, the food pantry and completing work on the building.
“We always have many, many ways to raise money and support programming,” she said.
The Radiothon also solicits help from many volunteers who set up tables to do face painting for kids, cook food or perform. Ballet Folklorico entertained visitors on Friday. The dance company performs publicly on several occasions throughout the year.
“We’re always down to help,” Ballet Folklorico Director Carlos Avila said.
He and his wife, Sonia, instruct dancers ranging from young children to adults in traditional and popular Mexican dances while teaching them the meaning for each dance. Families and individuals who attended the Radiothon ate ice cream as they watched several performances by the group.
“It’s a great place and we feel blessed to be a part of this place,” Lupita said.
The day’s festivities included a raffle for virtual reality glasses, a live radio broadcast, other giveaways and several musical performances. Attendees and volunteers also received a hot meal.
“This is the only center that provides a hot meal every single day of the year,” Lupita said.
Russell said the Radiothon is an event for the entire family and next year’s will be special. Lupita said next year marks ten years since the CMC reopened offering services to everyone in the community.
“It has the word Catholic in its name but it helps more people than just Catholics,” Luis said.