WILMINGTON, Del. – Each year the Latin American Community Center heralds the local observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month with the famous annual Festival Latina.

The Festival Latina, formerly known as the annual open house, was held on Friday, September 8 at the LACC, where Executive Director Maria Matos hosted elected officials, including Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzicki, and various members of the community. The large crowd was treated to lunch, traditional Latin music and dancing. Technically, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from September 15 to October 16, but the LACC likes to get started early, if you will.

Communications Specialist Tony Prado attended the Fiesta Latina, along with retired Wilmington Police officer Alfred Izquierdo, on Friday as part of BBD’s ongoing outreach to the Latino community. Hispanic Americans comprise 10 percent of the state of Delaware’s population and 15% of the U.S. But, they are just 2 percent of BBD donors and 3 percent of blood donors nationally.

There is tremendous opportunity for growth within this segment of the population. Researchers in the field of blood banking have estimated that as much as 60 percent of the Hispanic American population has type O blood.

Although BBD was not a sponsor of the Fiesta Latina open house per se, we may explore other events to sponsor in the future, including the LACC Grand Ball in October. We were also invited to attend the Hispanic Heritage Festival scheduled for Sunday, September 17 at Bellevue State Park in Wilmington, Delaware as well as New Castle County’s first Latin Food Festival scheduled for Saturday, October 8 at Glasgow Park on Rt 40!

Also, Tony was able to network with LACC Director of Development and Communications Kelly Scanlan, LACC Board of Directors member Carlos de los Ramos, Wilmington Councilwoman Maria Cabrera and Nuestras Raices Vice President India Colon. Nuestras Raices held the annual Festival Hispano Parade on Sunday, September 10 on West Fourth Street in Wilmington, where India did an oustanding job as emcee. He also ran into Hoy in Delaware newspaper editors Jose Somalo and Virginia Esteban-Somalo back at the Fiesta Latina.

That was a fun event as well. If we can put it in the ear of Hispanic community leaders that we need them, it is hoped BBD can make inroads within this community.