CINCO DE MAYO — Members of PEF's Hispanic committee gather for a group shot at a fundraiser at the Cinco De Mayo celebration in New York City. They are (L-R) Evelyn Fuentes, Marion Fox, Angel Luis Acosta, Gustavo Santos, unidentified guest, Minerva Osorio, Ed Fonte, Roxanne Rosario, Bill Cruz, Vernetta Chesimard, Iris Carrasquillo and Julio Munoz. — Photo by Richard Dillard
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Somos El Futuro, the charitable arm of the Puerto Rican Hispanic Legislative Task Force, held its 18th annual conference in Albany at the Empire State Plaza in April.
This year’s theme “The Hispanic Laborer,” paid tribute to the role of organized labor, according to Julio Munoz, PEF Division 171A council leader and co-chair of the event.
“This conference gave us the opportunity to honor union members and their contributions to the state,” Munoz said. “PEF was well represented. Our members staffed the PEF booth, organized workshops and were present at a news conference.”
PEF President Roger Benson and Secretary-Treasurer Jane Hallum were among those honored for backing the PEF Hispanic committee and supporting diversity in the union.
Congressman Jose Serrano from the 16th District in NYC was honored for 30 years of public service and for being a strong supporter of PEF. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez from Brooklyn received an award, along with Sen. Martin Malave
One of the founders of PEF’s Hispanic Committee, Angel Luis Acosta, was also honored.
“It was great to receive the award,” Acosta said. “It provided an opportunity to speak to my peers about the need to build coalitions. It’s important we embrace members in the Black Caucus and Veterans’ committees. By doing so, it will make us stronger both internally and externally.
“Somos El Futuro means ‘we are the future.’ We need to celebrate our individual cultures yet work together to chart a course for the future,” he said.
One of the ways the Task Force prepares for the future is by setting the stage for Hispanic young people to become involved in politics. At the conference, nearly 200 teens participated in mock debates while learning the ways of state government.
“The teenagers get involved and learn how the Legislature functions,” said Gustavo Santos, committee co-chair.
At the reception, Benson presented a $1,000 check to Peter M. Rivera, Assembly member and chairman of the Hispanic Task Force, for the scholarship fund.
“This gift exemplifies our commitment to Hispanic youth. When the time comes for them to take over the reins, we hope they will continue to value and fight for organized labor,” Benson said. “It’s a contribution for their education. And education brings the power to make a difference.”
For more information about the Hispanic Task Force, visit www.somoselfuturo.org.
Communicator June 2005
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