Tuesday, May 5 is not only Primary Election day here in Fort Wayne but also Cinco de Mayo, a day of parties and festivities celebrating the Mexican people. Many believe that this is Independence Day in Mexico, but in fact it is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla when the Mexican Army defeated the invading French Army there in 1862, a very inspirational victory for the Mexican people because at the time the French were considered to have the strongest army in the world. After this victory, May the fifth, Cinco de Mayo in Spanish, became a holiday celebrating the bravery and daring of the Mexican troops. In the United States Cinco de Mayo continues to be a day of celebration in Hispanic communities. I talked with some members of my staff who say that on this day people come together at their homes or churches or restaurants for food and drink, music and the enjoyment of friends and family.
Here at Wayne Township I am proud that we have four staff members who are members of the local Hispanic communities and can speak both English and Spanish. This is very useful for us and for our clients. Hirma Borjas, for one, has been with the Trustee’s office for over 23 years and has been serving all that time as a bilingual investigator. Born in Texas and raised in Chicago, she grew up speaking both English and Spanish. Many of the Hispanic clients she helps can speak some English, but it is easier for them, especially in stressful situations, to be able to talk to someone in their native language.
Andrea Hilton came to the township more recently making that two bilingual investigators for our office. She was born in California and raised for much of her childhood in Colombia, South America. She spoke only Spanish until she was 8 years old and then learned English. She enjoys helping her clients by sharing information she has about the many resources in the community they may not be aware of.
Ray Navarro and David Foster, both Texas natives, manage our workfare client staff. They encounter Spanish-speaking folks there and as they spend time working in our front lobby. They also see Spanish-speaking clients who come to our office when the Community Harvest farm wagon visits our parking lot every Monday morning. Ray has been with the township for eight years and David came to us just this year. Both men were raised by parents who did migrant work and moved to different seasonal jobs around the United States. They have some interesting stories of growing up seeing their parents doing some pretty back-breaking labor while struggling to raise their families. Ray remembers when his parents would set him and his sister in the shade of a tree while they went to work in the fields. David rode along with his dad, a truck driver, to move oranges out of the fields. He remembers carrying a little packet of salt to put on the big tomatoes his dad would find him for his lunch.
Stories like these remind me of how diverse we are, with folks of all walks of life living here in Wayne Township and that, I think, is something to celebrate. So join in the celebration on Cinco de Mayo. Here’s a tip: I talked to Bandido’s Restaurant on Winchester Road to see if they were doing anything special, and I found out that all of their drinks will be half price that day.