On November 28th, Latinitas invited former alum, volunteers, and the entire community to their latest event; Latinitas Giving Tuesday Open House: Giving Youth A Seat At The Table, “El punto es que ellas empiecen a tomar un rol protagónico, ellas necesitan tener espacios donde enfrenten pruebas.” Explains Development Operations Coordinator Anais Castellanos, adding that this event aims to unify Latinitas alumna, students, their families, and our generous sponsors. Having everyone in one space, to show in real-time Latinitas’ amazing mission, and the impact they have when everyone is joined together.
The event itself was a hoot and a half! As soon as you walked in, music filled the air as the smell of delicious foods, courtesy of Suculenta and Yummy Arepas wafted through, and there was so much to do! The usual Latinitas Office space had been transformed for the occasion. Three different workshops were going on, and patrons moved from station to station, getting the chance to play with the latest tech. Starting with Robot Pong; a new take on an old classic. Robot Pong is similar to the game you play at bars or college parties, only instead of using your hands, kids were using Wonder Workshop’s awesome Dash Robots. Using the catapult attachment and nearby iPads to move them around and try to get the balls in. Anytime someone succeeded, and a ball landed in a cup, the room would erupt into chaos, whooping and hollering.
But the fun was far from over. Right behind Robot Pong was a table filled with SCRIB3D 3D pens. In the station, manned by Flagship Programs Coordinator Mia Gomez-Reyez, people got the chance to draw in 3D, creating beautiful butterflies and meticulously lining the colorful plastic over and over again to build up the layers. This was personally my favorite station, and an absolutely crowd favorite. Kids kept lining up at the pens, and by the end of the night, their parents had created masterpieces too! Though there was definitely a learning curve when it came to using it, I’d say my little pink plant came out pretty good. Lastly, there was the robot painting station! Manned by Programs Leader Alexandria Garza, this was, I’ll be quite honest, absolutely awesome. Taking these waterproof robots, and with iPads participants were able to move the robots through the paint and then run them through a canvas of papers laid out on the ground. This was so cool to do, and even cooler when you looked back at the end of the night and there was this massive piece of art staring back. Each stroke created by a different person or kid or even entire family! Let me know if you can spot my pink-sloping circles.
As the workshops started to wind down, our emcee former Communications Intern, and Latinitas alumna Khameyah Taylor introduced our lovely Interim Executive Director Gabriela Guardia to the stage, “As we reflect on the year, it’s really been a great year for Latinitas, but it has not been without its challenges,” Gabriela began. “You know, we have witnessed firsthand historic underfunding in our public schools, and we’ve seen the ramifications of what that means. The lack of teachers and the lack of enrichment opportunities for our students. So it’s been really special for Latinitas to step up and meet the demand for schools who want our afterschool programs like Club Latinitas there to make sure students have a creative outlet on their school campus. We also have witnessed an influx of new student immigrants from Central America who are just acclimating to being in America. Who are learning English and this is why it’s so important that we come in during school time as well, with our programs like Chicas Robotics. With our Bilingual STEAM education programs…
“Tonight, all of you here, your presence means so much. It’s an amazing affirmation that we’re doing something really important in our community, and it means so much that you’re here to support that. Tonight specifically, we’re fundraising to invest in technology. We honestly need to renovate and update our inventory of technology that we provide to our students…And so, we truly appreciate you helping us empower our students, empower their future through technology. Truly thank you all so much for being here, thank you for being great fans and supporters, and community members of Latinitas, we’re so grateful to have you here. Gracias.”
Following Gabriela, a representative from our incredible sponsor Consuela came onto the stage to announce a little surprise, “We are here to celebrate an amazing woman that is of the Volunteers here at Latinitas, and so Kassandra can you come up?” The absolutely incredible Kassandra Foote jolted from the crowd and followed our Consuela Conesewer, “So Kassandra, you were nominated by the entire staff at Latinitas.” Nominated for what you may ask? Kassandra Foote was honored as Consuela’s latest Viva Babe, part of their It’s Not About The Bag program that aims to honor Latinas doing good in their communities. As such, Kassandra was gifted a few purses from Consuela, and will be highlighted in their latest Viva Babe campaign.
Following Consuela’s incredible announcement, current Latinita Camila Romero and Latinitas Alumna Sophia Zegarra took to the stage to express just how much Latinitas has helped them. Afterward, one of our Ambassadors Yuridia Gutierrez came onto the stage with a special message about our Digital Parents program, “There is a beautiful phrase that a mother has shared which is, ‘Latinitas has changed my life and has opened multiple doors for me.’” Followed by the Vice President at Dell Technologies, Loretta Fellers, who had this to say, “So, my maiden name is Garcia. And I’m embarrassed to tell you I don’t speak Spanish. When I was a kid, my dad, many many years ago, thought that it would be better for us if we did not speak Spanish and that we did not have an accent. What my dad did not know is what we would see here today. It’s amazing.” Ending the speech with an exciting announcement that Dell Technologies was happy to provide updated tech for our students.
Once all the speeches were all said and done, the only thing left to do was dance! UT student by day and Latin-Indie musician by night, Marylynn joined Latinitas and lent her beautiful voice for the evening, “It makes me super happy to be in a space with people that appreciate Latinidad, empowering and promoting Latinos, and Latinitas of course! So it just makes me so happy to be in this space and to celebrate with y’all as well.” And celebrate we did! Marylynn’s voice was unbelievable, reminiscent of the greats as she sang everything from upbeat Cumbia to softer ballads. The night ended, but the party kept going as we danced to Marylynn’s covers of Selena!