Funds Recipient for a Socially-Distanced Grand Haven Hispanic Heritage Fiesta Named

Last year, the first-ever Grand Haven Hispanic Heritage Fiesta brought thousands of people to Central Park for a day of celebrating the riches of the Hispanic heritage and culture present in our area. After expenses, the Fiesta made a donation of nearly $5,000 to the Migrant Resource Council, the largest gift that organization has ever received.

This year, given the nature of the global Coronavirus Pandemic, many festivals have been cancelled for 2020. But on Monday, August 3, the Grand Haven City Council approved plans for a 2020 Grand Haven Hispanic Heritage Fiesta week to be held September 21 through September 26. On the same day, it was announced that half of the proceeds from this year’s Fiesta will go to Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates.

Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates (LIA) is a local nonprofit law office that works to bring stability to West Michigan families and communities through legal services, education, and advocacy. LIA is the only nonprofit organization in the greater Ottawa County area that provides these critical services to the immigrant community. “We are incredibly honored that the GHHHF team has chosen to partner with us in this way,” Julia Fulton from LIA said. “Our team had a great time last year, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to safely connect with the Grand Haven community this fall.”

Additionally, the group behind last year’s Fiesta has filed Articles of Incorporation with the State of Michigan to become a stand-alone non-profit corporation, the Tri-Cities Puentes Initiative (TCPI). The mission of the TCPI will be to build bridges (puentes, in Spanish) and cultural understanding through the celebration of the Hispanic and Latinx community in the Tri-Cities area. The other half of the Fiesta proceeds will go to the creation of the TCPI.

The Fiesta will be one of the primary programs offered each year by the TCPI, but the hope in 2021 is that regular programs can be offered throughout the year that will educate people about Hispanic history in the Tri-Cities and celebrate Hispanic culture. “I am excited about the creation of TCPI and that we will be able to have a Fiesta again this year,” said Reyna Masko, co-chair of the Fiesta and of TCPI and a member of the City of Grand Haven Human Relations Commission, “We want to be an organization that brings people together by building bridges (puentes) through education, celebration and more importantly provide leadership opportunities for Hispanic/Latinx residents that call Tri-Cities their home.”

Leadership wasn’t sure what to expect for the first Fiesta. “When we first announced plans for last year’s Fiesta, we were met with skepticism, a sense that there wasn’t a significant Hispanic heritage and culture in the Tri-Cities,” said the Rev. Dr. Jared Cramer, co-chair of the Fiesta and of TCPI and also rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven. However, the Fiesta leaders that after a celebration that included thousands of community members, they were able to affirm that the presence of Hispanics and Latinos in our community is a strong one. Cramer continued, “We were also able to highlight the fact that Hispanics and Latinos contribute much more to our communities than agricultural work; they are artists, musicians, business owners, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and community leaders.”

More information on the week of celebrations planned for September is available on the Fiesta website at www.grandhavenfiesta.org. More information on the Tri-Cities Puentes Initiative can be found on their website, www.tcpuentes.org

Things Getting Real

Hi Friends of the TCPI,

The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, Co-Chair

Things for the Tri-Cities Puentes Initiative are becoming more and more real. We have finalized our Articles of Incorporation—through the amazing work of a member of my parish, Nancy Collins, and are now sending them into the State of Michigan. This will enable Nancy to begin working on our 501c3 paperwork so we can become a standalone entity.

We’ve also almost finalized our plans for a safe, socially-distanced, and responsible way of celebrating Hispanic Heritage at the end of September. We’re calling it “Grand Haven Hispanic Heritage Week” and it will run from Monday, September 21 – Saturday, September 26. I think it is a great plan, with five different methods of celebration, learning, and connection—all of which can be done while staying safe in a pandemic. It will go to City Council on Monday, August 3, and I’m hopeful that it will be approved.

As the TCPI and the 2020 Fiesta begin to concretize, the need for your support becomes all the more essential. Please consider supporting us with a gift of any amount possible. You can make your tax deductible contribution online here or by sending a check to “TCPI, c/o Erin Kamphuis, Greater Ottawa County United Way, 115 Clover St STE 300, Holland, MI 49423.”

Together, we will make these things happen.

¡Celebremos!

The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Co-Chair

How You Can Make the 2020 Fiesta Happen!

Dear Community Member,

We are writing to invite you to be a part of a growing movement of celebration and inclusion in the Tri-Cities.

Last year, we hosted the first ever Grand Haven Hispanic Heritage Fiesta. With over $20,000 in community sponsorships, we threw an amazing block party in Central Park, one that exceeded our wildest hopes. With amazing food, a fantastic cantina, live music all day long, great kid’s activities, and an active Mercado full of vendors, we spent all day celebrating the Hispanic community that has been such an important part of our area for so many years—though often unrecognized. After all the bills were paid, we even were able to donate $5,000 to the Migrant Resource Council, the single largest donation they have received and one that will transform the services they can offer migrant workers in our area in 2020.

The energy from that Fiesta has only grown, as has the Team of those involved. Plans are now being laid for the 2020 Fiesta during the week of Monday, September 21 – Saturday, September 26. Mark your calendars! We’re going to build the momentum even though we are in the midst of a pandemic by five different types of safe, socially-distanced celebration:

>> Hispanic Heritage Restaurant Week – Restaurants in the Tri-Cities are invited to participate in a special restaurant week from Monday, September 21 – Saturday, September 26. Each restaurant will choose a country whose cuisine they want to showcase with a special appetizer, entrée, dessert, and drink. Each participating restaurant will donate a percentage of sales (at the restaurant’s choice) of the food to the TCPI. Whichever restaurant generated the most donations for TCPI will be crowned the 2020 Hispanic / Latinx Cuisine winner and highlighted in our media posts and communications.

>> Hispanic Heritage Food Truck Weekend – Saturday, September 26, we will invite food trucks that prepare Latin American and/or Hispanic Food to sign-up for pre-arranged spots throughout the Tri-Cities from 11am – 9pm. We’ll have a map available for what will be the most satisfying scavenger food hunt you’ve ever been on!

>> Hispanic Heritage Film Festival – Each night, from Monday, September 21
– Saturday, September 26, the TCPI will highlight a film of relevance to Latinx history and culture. Families, individuals, and small groups will be invited to watch the film at home and then, if they wish, participate in a Zoom discussion on the film at 8pm each night, led by a member of TCPI or a community leader.

>> Hispanic Heritage Virtual Mercado – West Michigan businesses owned by members of the Hispanic community, along with organizations which serve the Hispanic community, will be invited to make a donation of their own choosing to the work of TCPI and, in response, to receive a spot in the Hispanic Heritage Virtual Mercado. Videos highlighting each individual vendor and links to the vendor’s website will be highlighted on the TCPI website and also on a schedule of social media posts throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.

>> Virtual Dance Night – Each night during the week we will post a short video(s) with a teaching on a Latin American dance routine. People will be invited to participate in their own homes and learn some great traditional Latin American dances.

But that’s not all. We have formed a new 501c3 entity known as the Tri-Cities Puentes Initiative (TCPI). Puentes is the Spanish word for bridge—a potent symbol for our area and the inspiring symbol for what our organization wants to do: build bridges between Hispanic/Latinx culture and the larger Tri-Cities community.

We’re hoping you will help us. We are hoping to raise $10,000 for costs associate with the Fiesta week and $5,000 for startup costs for the new organization that will organize these events.

Please consider joining us in this important work, celebrating the heritage and culture of the Hispanic community in Grand Haven.

¡Celebremos!

Reyna Makso, Ottawa County Cultural Intelligence Committee , Co-Chair

The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Co-Chair