This past month, IFR did its part to recognize the rich talent, energy, commitment and beauty in our community. On Pa’delante, IFR’s policy/advocacy page, we honored a different amazing person from the past or present (or mythical) who has enriched our community.
This year, we recognized a tireless and exuberant Latina kindergarten teacher, a take-no-prisoners community leader, a doctor who has expanded our awareness and understanding of the Indigena community in San Francisco, a genderqueer artist whose talent knows no bounds, and a Latina lesbian who knows the workings of San Francisco City Hall better than anyone on the planet.
Here’s a short recap…
Roberto Hernandez, known by those "in the know" as the Mayor of the Mission, is also our very own Latino MacGyver. The way he took a phone, a clip board, a few friends, and a lot of love to build the Mission Food Hub is equal parts heartwarming and heroic. Tonight, there are thousands of Mission District children and families that won’t go hungry because of Roberto. Check out his story here.
If you get the chance to meet Araceli Leon, she will blow you away. For REAL! This teacher takes kindergarten to a whole new level. She is beloved by her students and their parents because of the tremendous care and thought she puts into each part of the education experience. An admitted overachiever, we happen to know that Araceli is also an amazing musician - oh, and did we forget to mention, she’s also the president of LATA, the Latin American Teachers Association. Read her story here.
Tina Valentin Aguirre has likely had 9 lives, and has done amazing things with each one of them. An artist, writer, poet, filmmaker, curator, HIV/AIDS activist, cultural worker, and mentor, their contributions are etched in dozens of reading rooms, murals, and queer Latinx poetry spaces. For us at Pa'delante, Tina’s greatest offering has to be the magic she sees and honors in others. Their story is profound in its commitment to maintaining fearless resilience. You can read their story here.
Speaking of magic, few doctors have done what Dr. Alberto Perez has. He helped San Francisco see and appreciate the Indígena community living here. More important, he helped the Indígena of San Francisco find each other. As a result of his work, we have all enjoyed honoring and celebrating the customs, traditions, values, and beauty of the Indígena community. Take a look at Alberto’s story here.
As leaders, all of honorees also know how to have fun. So we gave each of them the same Quick Fire challenge. Here's what they said:
What is your favorite meal?
Alberto: cochinita pibil
Araceli: enchiladas de mole con pollo
(Our kind of people!)
What's your favorite song of all time?
Alberto: Nicte-ha (a traditional Mayan song)
Roberto: Black Magic Woman/Santana
Araceli: Como Fue/Beny More
Tina: When Doves Cry
(Eclectic, but good taste, no?)
If we made a movie of your life, who would you want to play you?
Alberto: Diego Luna
Roberto: Benjamin Bratt
Araceli: Karrie Martin (Gentefied)
Tina: Guillermo de la Cruz (What We Do in the Shadows)
(Pa'delante sees in their future: "I'd like to thank the Academy...")
Who is your favorite hero, past or present?
Alberto: Jacinto Canek & Gaspar Yanga
Roberto: Cesar Chavez
Araceli: My parents, for their commitment to community and unconditional love
Tina: my mom, for her positivity and the glow about her
(A big awwwww to each of them)
What is your favorite pastime?
Alberto: Spending time with my 3 kids
Roberto: Reading a book while on a floatie in the water in Calistoga
Tina: Watching TV and chilling out
(We'd hang out with these incredible human beings any day of the week, but Roberto had us at floatie!)
Happy Latino Heritage Month to all of our honorees! You are all community stars. You have all deserved to engage in your favorite pastime, eating your favorite food, listening to your favorite songs, and planning your next amazing feats!