Lupita Montoto and her husband Luis had pretty close to nothing when they first arrived in Madison way back in 1999. One of the first stops they made was to the Catholic Multicultural Center on Madison’s south side.
“I didn’t speak English. Luis didn’t even know how to turn on a computer; he was taking computer classes at CMC. I was learning English and we were doing the cleaning business at night. We’d sleep for a couple of hours and go to CMC for classes and support,” Lupita Montoto remembers. “Maybe once or twice, we took things from the food pantry. Our first Christmas was at the Catholic Multicultural Center.”
The newlywed Montotos learned skills, took classes, made connections and started their own cleaning business. Soon after that, they would start their own Spanish-language radio station.
“When we first arrived, we didn’t know anybody other than the people at the Catholic Multicultural Center. We were so fortunate that the place existed,” Montoto tells Madison365. “And just like the Montotos, there are so many other couples and other families that just arrived here who wanted to start their new lives and they didn’t know where to go but quickly found that CMC is the right place for them.”
The Montotos are so happy to be giving back the agency that once helped them so much as their La Movida Spanish Radio Station will once again, along with the Catholic Multicultural Center, host the annual all-day CMC Radiothon on Friday, Dec. 13, noon-7 p.m. This is the 8th annual event where the community comes together to raise funds for the many social services offered by the organization serving Madison’s south side since 1946.
A multitude of programs and services – like ESL classes, job training, youth activities, daily free meal, low-cost immigration legal services, food pantry, a community lab and much more – are offered at this community center on Madison’s Southside and thousands of Madisonians have used it to help get their lives on track. That’s what made it so devastating when the CMC closed down about a decade ago due to tough economic times. Fortunately, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish on Madison’s west side stepped up to the plate to save the Center, re-opening its doors two months later.
Soon after, the annual Radiothon was started by a group of Latino leaders who wanted to generate support for the Center to ensure that its doors would never close to the community again.
“We saw the need for the CMC and what an important part it played in our community,” Montoto says. “We brainstormed about how we could help and what we could do to support and that’s where the Radiothon idea came up.
Each year La Movida 1480AM/94.5FM broadcasts live from the CMC and encourages listeners to get involved with the mission of the CMC by offering their financial support.
A festive array of activities at the CMC will coincide with the radio broadcast:
During the live radio broadcast at the Catholic Multicultural Center, there will be non-stop entertainment going on including performances by singer/songwriters Angela Puerta and Clare Norelle and a performance by dance group Ballet Folklórico Carlos y Sonia Avila. There will also be delicious Latin American food donated by volunteers and local restaurants such as Pan y Pan, Habaneros, and A La Brasa. There will be face painting by MetamorFaces, prizes, and Guadalupe Mass at noon.
The Montotos are excited to be hosting Bishop Donald Hying of the Diocese of Madison at 10 a.m. this morning on La Movida Madison Spanish radio to discuss the upcoming Radiothon fundraiser.
“The Bishop will be on the station and we are so excited about it. He speaks Spanish and he was excited initially to be at the Radiothon but unfortunately, now, he has to go to Rome, so he won’t be able to make it,” Lupita Montoto says. “But he will be at our studio. I haven’t met him before so we are very excited to see him and talk to him.
The Catholic Multicultural Center is now celebrating 10 years of growth and expanding services to people. In 10 years, CMC grew its staff from 4 to 16 permanent positions, tripled the amount of programming offered to people in need, and greatly expanded its budget to better meet the needs of the community.
“It’s good to celebrate success. We have come from having no resources [when the Center was shut down] to 10 years later, celebrating how our programs have grown so much and all the accomplishments we have done. The community really got involved which is what has kept us alive,” said CMC Services Coordinator Antonio Quintanilla in a press release.
“Queen of Peace has been the main reason we are still here but they couldn’t do it alone. It takes the whole community,” said Quintanilla. “The Radiothon is special because it started as an idea from the Latino perspective, trying to involve the Latino community [in supporting the Center].”
A donation jar will collect contributions for all who wish to give towards the Center’s services at the Radiothon. Everybody is welcome at this event regardless of their ability to donate.
“I love how the community comes together for this Radiothon every year. There are so many places people can go and ask for help in many different ways – we’re fortunate to have so many good organizations in Madison. But I think the CMC is the place that pretty much everything,” Montoto says.
“It’s a place that Luis and I feel very attached to because it’s a place that first gave us an opportunity and a chance to make a life here in Madison,” she adds. “At the beginning, they were helping us but we soon became volunteers and then supporters. It’s a beloved place for us. And they’ve grown so much over the years. It’s a special place.”
For more information about the 2019 Radiothon and how you can contribute, click here.