United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) is on a statewide search to look for nominations for the prestigious awards that they will present at the annual UMOS Hispanic Awards Banquet coming up in October. If you know somebody who has been doing incredible work, now is the time to send that nomination in.

“There are four categories that we are currently seeking nominations for – the UMOS Hispanic Youth of the Year, the UMOS Hispanic Woman of the Year, the UMOS Hispanic Man of the Year, and the UMOS Hispanic Family of the Year,” Roderick Ritcherson, special assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of UMOS, tells Madison365. “We are looking for someone who has been a leader in the community … someone who had devoted their professional and personal life to advancing the Hispanic community.”

UMOS, a non-profit advocacy organization based out of Milwaukee, provides programs and services which improve the employment, educational, health and housing opportunities of under-served populations. Their annual banquet is a chance to honor outstanding community members who have done great work. A lot of the past winners of UMOS annual awards have traditionally been from Milwaukee, which has the largest Latino population in the state. Ritcherson mentions that Madisonians have actually been well represented among award winners, too, and that the award is open to people throughout the state of Wisconsin.

Madison's Dora Zuniga wins UMOS's Woman of the Year in 2014. She's pictured here with Juan Jose Lopez and Lupe Martinez.
Madison’s Dora Zuniga wins UMOS’s Woman of the Year in 2014. She’s pictured here with Juan Jose Lopez and Lupe Martinez.

“This is an indeed a statewide competition. Historically, the majority of recipients have been from Milwaukee but it is open to the whole state,” he says. “Just recently, Madison has seen Juan Jose Lopez, Oscar Mireles, Dora Zuniga get major awards … they have all won.”

UMOS has operations in Missouri, Minnesota and Texas, as well as in Wisconsin and Florida. Last fall, UMOS opened an office in Florida City, Florida to provide year-round service to migrant farmworkers that travel to Missouri and Wisconsin, and to explore additional opportunities. Yesterday, UMOS announced that it was selected to manage four CareerSource South Florida Centers in Opa-Locka, Carol City, Key Largo and Key West, Florida.

“This new contract with CareerSource South Florida will expand our presence in the state of Florida and hopefully lead to additional opportunities to partner with other government and non-profit agencies,” said UMOS President Lupe Martinez.

“We are very excited about this new contract that we were awarded in Florida.” Ritcherson says. “We opened up a new UMOS operation in Florida City just last fall.”

Ritcherson has been with UMOS for 23 years himself and says that this will be the 37th year that the annual awards will be presented at UMOS Hispanic Awards Banquet, which is a fun, networking event that is a chance to honor outstanding Hispanics who have distinguished themselves through their professional and personal accomplishments and/or community involvement throughout Wisconsin.

The 2016 award recipients were: Man of the Year/Dr. Enrique Figueroa; Woman of the Year/Liz Claudio; Youth of the Year/Martha R. Hernandez-Gomez; and Family of the Year/Mr. & Mrs. Augustin Ramirez.P_UMOS09333

“The purpose of the event is to celebrate Latinos. As we all know, Latinos have been great contributors here in America and to society worldwide from labor to literature, science to sports, manufacturing to music, politics to publishing, education to entertainment, and arts to advocacy,” Ritcherson says. “So, we want to highlight those contributions from folks who have done such great things here in Wisconsin.”

Ritcherson encourages community members from throughout the state to submit their 2017 nominations today. You may submit as many nominations as you wish, but you must use a separate form for each nomination. It is important that you include your nominee’s complete name, address and phone number. Nominees submitted should be Hispanics who have made significant contributions to the quality of life in Wisconsin.

“You can send nominations to Carmen Lerma through e-mail at Carmen.Lerma@umos.org,” Ritcherson says.

Those who are selected this year will be honored at the 37th Annual UMOS Hispanic Awards Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Potawatomi Hotel & Conference Center, located at 1721 W Canal Street in Milwaukee. The evening affair begins with a reception at 5 p.m., dinner at 6:15 p.m., and the awards program at 7:30 p.m. The evening will end with music and dancing.

“We encourage as many people as possible to send in those qualified nominations so that in 2017 we will have some fantastic awardees that will mirror all of the great award recipients, and wonderful people, that we have had in the past,” Ritcherson says. “We have a long legacy of great UMOS award winners and we are looking forward to adding to that in October.”

Please submit your nomination(s) as soon as possible and be as complete as possible because the information you are submitting will be the only information that will be reviewed by the selection committee. Nominations can be submitted by mail to Carmen Lerma, UMOS, P.O. Box 04129, Milwaukee, WI 53204. Questions may be directed to Lerma at 414-389-6002.