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Celebrate Latino success in Federal Way
The Oxford American Dictionary defines the word independent as “not influenced by others in one’s ideas or conduct.”
The dictionary also expands the word’s meaning as not depending on another for validity or operation on the things involved.
On Sept. 15 throughout the country, many celebrated Mexico’s Independence Day. This non-holiday historical date is often confused with Cinco de Mayo. Both events’ victories were won with a handful of people determined to stand up and fight against oppression. The impressive thing about these two landmark dates is that they were both battles won by leaders who believed that with vision, desire and sacrifice, any battle can be won.
Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is considered Hispanic Heritage Month in recognition of the largest minority group in United States, constituting 15 percent of the nation’s population. It is during this time that America honors the history, culture and contributions of United States citizens who celebrate their Hispanic heritage.
In Washington state, it is estimated there are around 700,000 Latinos and over 7.5 percent in Federal Way (see sidebar for more statistics). There are definite signs of some brave and independent Latinos that have proven to be successful and vibrant in our city.
Consider the bravery of Father Miguel Hidalgo, who addressed the people in front of his church, encouraging them to revolt against against wealthy Spanish landowners. This was a determining factor in the revolt against the Spaniards or the valiant efforts of a small Mexican army led by Texas-born Mexican Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza against the French Army. Today we also have individuals who have accomplished great feats with little to work with.
Individuals who migrated or are children of immigrants who worked hard have become true examples of the American dream.
I am often get asked “Where is the best Mexican restaurant?” or “Are there any Latino businesses?” or “Why aren’t they ever mentioned?”
Well, thank you for asking. First and foremost, let me give kudos to all the Latino businesses in our area. Whether it be from a “taco truck to a tailor shop” or a “body and fender shop to a beauty shop,” or whether you manage a McDonald’s or a Macy’s — congratulations to all of you.
Let’s take a virtual tour of some of Federal Way’s Latino businesses that are vibrant, sucessful and involved in the community.
• Let’s visit Lorena Vielmas, the co-owner of Yulabeza Beauty Salon. Lore, as many call her, came to Federal Way at age 9 with her family that struggled yet believed that education and hard work will pave your road to success. She was determined to learn English, and at age 18, she attended beauty school. Lorena was then hired by Great Clips, where after three months, she was promoted to manager. Five years later, she managed a space at Magic Cuts. Her success and demand from clients motivated her to open her own salon. Lore is a role model to the community, as she does volunteer work and provides complimentary haircuts to the homeless shelter and the battered women’s shelter, and is also an active member of the Latino community as well as a “soccer mom.”
• Jess Salazar, CEO and founder of Aliento Academy, which offers training courses such as interpersonal relationship skills, the instructor development workshop, Washington pre-license fundamentals and a Washington 60-hour first-time renewal program. Jess has been instrumental in the development of leadership training curriculum presently used throughout the nation. He developed the security identification touch screen computer course that is used in all the nation’s airports. His expertises have been utilized by the National Guard and the FBI, thus receiving national recognition for his accomplishments. Jess has resided in Federal Way for over 20 years and is active in the community.
• Edgar Rojas, owner of Las Margaritas Family Mexican Restaurant, a popular restaurant in the area. A native of Mexico, Edgar started as a busboy at the age of 18, then worked as a waiter. Now, 10 years later, he owns one of the area’s favorite Mexican restaurants. It is a favorite spot for local TV celebrities, professional athletes and political dignitaries. Edgar is also a proud sponsor of many local non-profit events, the Federal Way soccer camps and schools in the area.
• Then we have the Areola father-and-son team. Carlos Areola owns and operates Carlos Auto, which has been in Federal Way for six years. It was there that his son Jonathan was introduced to air-brushing. Mr. Areola always had faith that his son would make a change from street tagging and graffiti to a positive way of expressing his talent and skills. It was at age 14 when Jonathan was expelled from school and was having problems with the law. The persistence of a caring father helped his son make a 180-degree transformational change, thus turning what was a negative to a productive positive. Jonathan’s artistic air-brushed murals and paintings on cars have been featured in various car shows, and recently at the Federal Way Lions Club car show. With Jonathan now at age 21, Mr. Areola continues to be his son’s biggest supporter as he continues his education in the field of art and design. In spite of the busy schedule that demands the Areolas’ time, the family is active in the Federal Way community. Mr. Areola is also member of the newly-organized Hispanic community program, which is sponsored by the city.
Federal Way, I invite you to join America as we celebrate and honor the history, culture and accomplishments of Latinos in Federal Way. Gracias, America, for recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month.
Tito Hinojos is a Federal Way resident. Send comments to email@example.com.
HISPANICS IN THE U.S.
82,500: Number of Hispanic chief executives. In addition, 46,200 physicians and surgeons; 53,600 postsecondary teachers; 43,000 lawyers; and 5,700 news analysts, reporters and correspondents are Hispanic.
7.6 million: Number of Hispanic citizens who reported voting in the 2004 presidential election. The percentage of Hispanic citizens voting, about 47 percent, did not change statistically from four years earlier.
$222 billion: Revenue generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002, up 19 percent from 1997.
1.6 million: Number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002.
$38,679: Median income of Hispanic households in 2007, statistically unchanged from the previous year after adjusting for inflation.
21.5 percent: Poverty rate among Hispanics in 2007, up from 20.6 percent in 2006.
32.1 percent: Percentage of Hispanics who lacked health insurance in 2007, down from 34.1 percent in 2006.
68 percent: Percentage of Hispanics 16 and older who are in the civilian labor force.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, population and housing profile, “The American Community Survey 2006”