By Joe Contreras, Photos by LX Johns & Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media (see two photo galleries below)
The 7th Annual Raices Latinas Gala was again huge success with a wonderful experience had by hundreds of supporters that included Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, City Council members, state representatives, several other elected and appointed officials as well as political candidates running for office (see list below). Latin Life Denver Media was honored to serve as a media sponsor.
“This is the best gala we have ever had,” said an exuberant Rudy Gonzales, executive director for Servicios de la Raza (Services for the People) a non-profit organization that has served disadvantaged residents of Colorado for more than 47 years. “What I am most pleased about is the diversity of people we bring together for this annual gathering of community” said Gonzales adding we have people here from all walks of life representing the various people that make up our city and state.”
Its often regarded as the most fun Gala of the year as many reconnect with old acquaintances and network with new ones. The evening featured a delicious dinner, silent auction, awards ceremony honoring community leaders and organizations followed by dancing to the live music of Latin Sol.
Attendees were there not only to recognize award recipients but also to salute an organization which continues to provide a multitude of social services to those who most need them. From behavioral health, HIV support, food banks, health services, vocational apprenticeships, professional mentoring, incarceration release services, voting rights & legal advocacy, youth support services and numerous other programs Servicios de la Raza continues to be at the forefront of serving disadvantaged communities of Colorado.
Beyond the style and class of the gala, often dubbed “Chicano Prom”, the main attractions are the celebration of culture, diversity and the recognition of community leaders who exemplify the agency’s mission defined by Inclusion, Justice, Equity and Peace.
This year, Servicios honored CHAC Gallery and Cultural Center, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, and Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco. Awardees were presented with original artwork created by Denver artist and muralist Joaquin “Quino” Gonzales. (see details below)
The event was hosted and emceed by Channel 2 News Reporter Vicente Arenas and 15 year old Raquel Garcia brought down the house with her amazing and talented voice entertaining the audience during the cocktail hour of the event.
For over 47 years, Servicios de la Raza has responded to the unmet needs of, primarily, the Latinx community through dedicated programs. Their mission is: To provide and advocate for culturally responsive human services and opportunities.
COMMUNITY BUILDER AWARD MAYOR MICHAEL B. HANCOCK
Servicios de La Raza’s Community Builder award is bestowed upon organizations that provide resources to low to moderate-income communities, to create and develop empowerment models of self-sufficiency and self-determination. Mayor Hancock grew up in Denver as the youngest of ten kids, raised by a single mother in public housing.
He attended six elementary schools around the city before settling in at Cole Middle School, where he met his future wife. Michael promised his family he would always fight for justice and fairness and give voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless. Tragically, one of Michael’s brothers died from AIDS in 1996. Six years later, one of his sisters was killed by an estranged boyfriend, further fueling Michael’s advocacy for victims and his drive to end family violence in our community.
Because of his past, the need to help others will always be a part of him. Since becoming Mayor, Michael has turned Denver around by making major investments in affordable housing and transportation, reinvesting in our parks and libraries, and adding 100,000 new jobs to our economy. Mayor Hancock knows firsthand that we must protect Denver’s most vulnerable people and he has solid plans to provide more affordable housing, make it easier to get around and ensure Denver is more equitable and just for everyone. Today, the Mayor lives in Green Valley Ranch and is the proud father of three. Michael and his wife, Mary Louise, have been married for 25 years
CIVIC CHAMPION AWARD CHAZ TEDESCO
Servicios de La Raza’s Civic Champion Award is bestowed upon individuals who have worked tirelessly to support or promote civic engagement in the areas of social justice, equity and/or peace. Charles “Chaz” Tedesco was born in Denver, CO November of 1965. Both he and his biological sister had been passed through foster homes before being adopted by a loving couple in Northglenn, CO. He served in the Navy 1984-1990. Returning to Colorado where he met his wife Bernadette Padilla Tedesco and were married in 1996. They have one daughter and a son-in-law. In 2012 he was recruited to run for Adams County Commissioner from Dist. 2. This was a decision he did not take lightly. It was after long consultations with family, friends, church leaders and other prominent leaders of the community that he decided to run. He was elected in November of 2012 and re-elected after an outstanding first term in 2016. Chaz has worked to improve the services available for his citizens and create a network as diverse as his county. One of those success stories is the partnership between Servicios De La Raza and Adams County. The County now shares space at the new “Pete Mirelez Human Services Center” and has increased funding year after year creating a more diverse resource centered facility.
Elected & Appointed Officials
CULTURA CURA AWARD CHAC GALLERY AND CULTURAL CENTER
Servicios de La Raza’s Cultura Cura award is bestowed upon organizations or individuals that actively promote Latino culture, heritage or history. In 1978, a group of passionate Chicano and Latino visual and performing artists made a commitment to the promotion and preservation of their culture and its art. They formed the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, which in its earliest incarnation served as a funding resource for Chicano/Latino¬led film productions, publications and performances. Over time, the organization shifted its focus more toward the preservation of Chicano/Latino culture through the arts. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the organization continued to grow in both membership and stature, participating in events and projects including street fairs and public art projects. In 1997, CHAC opened a gallery on Santa Fe Drive, realizing the dream of its founders to have a cultural center that would not only display art, but would also create space for arts education. As a dynamic arts organization that is dedicated to its community, CHAC offers poetry, music, storytelling, educational opportunities and landmark cultural events, such as a widely known annual El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. CHAC remains the only Chicano/Latino art gallery in Colorado that features the work of both new and established artists.
AWARD ARTIST JOAQUIN GONZALES II
Chicano visual artist from Denver Colorado. A painter, illustrator, teacher, and graffiti artist/muralist that continues to gain a wider audience. Joaquin prolific artistry evolves around cultural identity and futuristic concepts of tomorrow. Joaquin has worked with multiple schools and nonprofits engaging youth of all ages throughout Denver. He has worked with companies such as Google, CauseArt, and Jose Cuervo to showcase his unique and versatile artwork. Joaquin continues his journey creating a path for himself and future Chicano artist to follow. For Art Inquiries: e-mail: Qiknowzart@gmail.com Instagram: @joaquin_gonzales_art Facebook:
Other Elected & Appointed Officials & Political Candidates
HONORABLE MICHAEL BENNET United States Senator HONORABLE JOE NEGUSE United States Representative HONORABLE JARED POLIS Governor of Colorado DIANE PRIMAVERA Lt. Governor PHIL WEISER Colorado Attorney General DAVE YOUNG Colorado State Treasurer LEROY GARCIA President of Colorado Senate DOMINICK MORENO State Senator – District 21 ROBERT RODRIGUEZ State Senator – District 32 ANGELA WILLIAMS State Senator – District 33 JULIE GONZALES State Senator – District 34 RHONDA FIELDS State Senator – District 29 ADRIENNE BENAVIDEZ State Representative – District 32 BRI BUENTELLO State Representative – District 47 YADIRA CARAVEO, MD State Representative – District 31 JAMES COLEMAN State Representative – District 7 SERENA GONZALES-GUTIERREZ State Representative – District 4 LESLIE HEROD State Representative – District 8 JOVAN MELTON State Representative – District 41 ROCHELLE GALINDO State Representative – District 50 STEVE O’DORISIO Adams County Commissioner ROBIN KNIECH Denver City Council at Large ALBUS BROOKS City Council – District 9 CHIEF PAUL PAZEN Denver Police Dept. District 3 Councilman PAUL LOPEZ, District 3 candidate JAIME TORRES.
Awards Servicios Board of Directors
JOSEPH SALAZAR BOARD PRESIDENT COLORADO STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 31 ARRAH GALLAHER BOARD VICE PRESIDENT PORTFOLIO OPERATIONS MANAGER, JEFFERSON COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY TIM GAUDETTE BOARD TREASURER COMMUNITY MEMBER REBECCA L. ROSALES BOARD SECRETARY KINSHIP SOCIAL CASEWORKER, DDHS ARMANDO L. MARTÍN CEO, XL EDGE CHRISTIAN H. JIMENEZ SALAS COMMUNITY MEMBER/CONSULTANT ANTONIO ESQUIVEL, PHD EMERITUS PROFESSOR, METROPOLITAN STATE UNIVERSITY RICHARD SANS SOUCY ATTORNEY AT LAW, MILLER & ASSOCIATES LAW OFFICES
Photos by Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
Photos by LX Johns, Latin Life Denver Media