January 30, 2019
To the members of the Rochester Hispanic Business Association,
I am starting the second year of my two—year term as a chair and must thank everyone who stepped to the plate in 2018.
Now we begin a very special year for our association because 2019 marks our the 30th anniversary. It seems like it was yesterday when a group of Hispanic professionals in our community decided to found an organization. As a charter member of RHBA, I remember vividly our beginnings, our early morning meetings in some restaurant in town and the need to have a structure to be taken seriously. A slow process as people came and went.
The idea to recognize a Hispanic professional for his or her contributions to the community was born in 1990. Not an annual lunch with many attendees but a simple get together at a restaurant where the chair would announce the name of the person. New members brought new ideas and eventually we adopted a set of by-laws and a board who would govern the association.
Half way through our life as a community organization, we became an affiliate of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. Then we had a place to meet and enjoyed the benefits of such relationship. With time we became involved in the community establishing reading partnerships with elementary schools in the city school district, sponsoring little league teams, donating toys and books to Golisano Children’s Hospital and providing scholarships to Hispanic students college bound. Our Hispanic Business Person of the Year became a lunch at the Riverside Convention Center!
Then someone brought the idea of holding networking events, one in the Spring and another at holiday time. That started over fifteen years ago and we have held them a a variety of locations, being the last one in December 2018 at Casa Hispana at Nazareth College, where we are returning for our Spring event in May. Net working gatherings give our members and non-members a venue to meet, share ideas and perhaps find a business solution to an issue.
In January we started our eighth consecutive year of holding business lunches on the third Tuesday of the month. Since the first business lunch held at D’Mangu Restaurant in January 2012, our gatherings have featured guest speakers who provided information about a myriad of issues. Starting this year, we will hold our lunch meetings alternating between D’Mangu and the Chamber of Commerce. If a lunch is held at the chamber, the food will be catered by a Hispanic owned restaurant. I encourage all our members and friends to attend the monthly lunches. I realize that it is not possible for many who, like myself, are owners of small business where your presence is required.
I welcome ideas and suggestions. Working together we can better the association and ourselves.