“Commit to the success of one individual in the Latino community” was the message from keynote speaker Francisco “Pancho” Gonzalez. Mr. Gonzalez holds the titles of Vice President and General Manager of the Michigan Region for McDonald’s. Last week’s Chavez and Hispanic Celebration Dinner was attended by close to 300 folks. Marylou Mason and the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan continues to put out a great night with a little of something for everyone. Upon arrival, guests at the downtown Lansing Radisson Hotel were greeted by El Mariachi Mexico from Detroit along with an hour of networking, seeing old friends, and plenty of picture taking. As usual, the event is highlighted by plenty of awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award given to Ed Sosa from Grand Rapids. Felipe Lopez Sustainta of Lansing, and Joseph Guzman of Haslett were each given the award of Educator of the Year. Taking home the Advocate of the Year Awards were Adriana Almanza from Greenville, Michigan and Debbie Renea Vasquez of Saginaw, Michigan. An Arts Award was given to Raices Meixcanas De Detroit. San Juana Olivares from Flint was awarded the Business/Economic Development Award. There were two Special Appreciation Awards given out to both the Michigan Sugar Company and Senator Rick Jones 24th District from Grand Ledge. Legislator of the Year was State Representative Henry Yanez from the 10th District out of Sterling Heights. There were 8 High School students given $500.00 scholarships. Beautifully decorated by Weddings By Nicole, this night is by far the “fanciest” event that is Latino oriented in the Mid Michigan area. The food was great as people from across the State enjoyed the chance to trade contact information, ideas and renew some old friendships. Many people in the past have always mistaken this night as a night for leaders, business folks, and dare we say stuffy people? Its for anyone and everyone wanting to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month or Cesar E. Chavez. Something odd happened this year though. I had never seen so many people bring their sons or daughters. I myself brought my 18 year old daughter Antonella as she took pictures for Cafecito for the evening. Ruben Martinez from the Julian Samora Research Institute at MSU was accompanied by his lovely daughter and award winner Ed Sosa brought a handsome looking son from Grand Rapids just to name a couple. It was actually quite refreshing to see the younger generation and lets hope we can put out the word next year to keep the trend going. The Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan was created in 1975 to represent the interests of Michigan’s Hispanic and Latino population – one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the state. The Commission, made up of 15 individuals appointed by the Governor, advises the Governor and state legislature on policy matters and serves Michigan’s Hispanic and Latino population by fostering and celebrating their achievements and promoting their development and welfare. For more information please call Vicky Garcia at 517-373-8339.