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WestMass ElderCare joins the community in recognizing and celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Though some events have been held virtually like the Springfield Puerto Rican parade on September 19, the spirit of the celebration continues strong. The theme of the Springfield Parade rings true for 2021: “Continuing Our Resilience,” (Continuando Nuestra Resiliencia) which honors the perseverance of the Puerto Rican community during the pandemic and their hopes for brighter days ahead.

Established in 1968, National Hispanic Heritage Month has been recognized across the United States to commemorate the diverse histories, cultures, and contributions of many Hispanic Americans who have come from Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South American countries. In 1988, the celebration was extended to cover the month from mid-September to mid-October which marks the anniversary of independence for some Latin American countries, and Dia de la Raza, the date of the discovery of the Western Hemisphere.

WMEC values independence in the work we do to help elders, caregivers, and people with disabilities participate in their communities and live comfortably and safely in their homes. We also appreciate local leaders who offer support to people in our community. For example, Cuidadores Unidos, a Spanish-speaking caregivers support group, meets regularly at the Holyoke Senior Center/Council on Aging to support caregivers whose family members have Alzheimer’s. Their mutual understanding of the patience needed to care for and journey with a loved one with dementia benefits all members.

OneHolyoke CDC has taken on new roles in addition to their work with housing and community development during COVID-19, namely providing information, PPE, and several vaccination clinics. The Carlos Vega Fund for Social Justice and Community Service honors Carlos’ commitment to a more vibrant and equitable community in the Greater Holyoke area by supporting individuals and organizations in the creation of social justice-related projects and programs. Since 2015, one local leader is recognized annually for their contributions to the community.

Finally, we honor and thank those from the Latinx community who have given so much during the pandemic as essential workers in many industries, including the direct care workforce.