PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos recognized Hispanic Heritage Month Thursday by honoring the “unsung heroes” of Rhode Island’s Latino community.
“We have seen them here doing the work, showing up for the Hispanic community, making sure that we celebrate our culture,” Matos said. “They’re people that normally are not the ones that get the awards, but they are the ones that do the work.”
In particular, Matos praised the work of Latina community leaders, from civic activists to dance instructors.
Among several others, she cited sisters Betty and Sylvia Bernal, who are leaders in the Andean Cultural Center and Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund respectively, and Neighborhood Health Plan Membership Outreach Coordinator Grace Gonzalez as “people that have been showing up” for community events.
Matos, who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, also praised Marilyn Cepeda, the president of Quisqueya in Action, a Providence nonprofit that organizes the Dominican Festival of Rhode Island each year.
“It takes a lot of work, and they put a lot of hours and a lot of personal sacrifice into making it happen, because they want to celebrate our culture,” Matos said.
In the spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month, Matos invited Rhode Islanders to join the state’s Latino community for cultural events that happen year-round.
“Come and learn more about our culture, come and learn more about the things that motivate us to continue to do the work in the community — and while you’re there, make sure that you dance and enjoy the food,” Matos said. “You won’t regret it.”