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A variety of officials celebrated Bingham County's Latino community on Thursday as the Latino Economic and Development Center (LEAD) presented the Plazas Comunitaris by the Consulate of Mexico and artist Jose Antonio Quezada unveiled a mural depicting Latino education and workers in Idaho.
Sonia Martinez, LEAD Director, described Plazas Comunitarias as a "technology-based resource center for Spanish-speaking adult learners to learn English and complete their elementary or middle school education, work towards a GED or take online workforce training."
The purpose of the Mexican Consulate in Boise is to help the Mexican citizens who are attempting to work legally in the United States, and continue to promote the Mexican culture, pursue businesses and encourage trade.
Martinez praised the local partners who have assisted LEAD in their effort to reach Bingham County's Latino citizens, specifically personnel from U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo Bank for their willingness to help local Latinos obtain credit and teach them banking skills. Representatives from Wells Fargo Bank presented a check for $3,500 at the event to put toward LEAD's computer training.
"We're so thankful to our partners who have continued to provide tech support for our computer lab, made possible through a grant initiated by Senator Mike Crapo and other state leaders," Martinez said. "We are the first organization in the state to focus on asset development for Idaho's Latinos. We've put Idaho on the map."
She added, "Southeast Idaho has a vibrant Latino community. I believe we've reached a point where people love our community."
Consul Carlos Rubio acknowledged the efforts of LEAD and praised the local Latino community for its hard work and entrepreneurship.
"I will keep working for Idaho and Mexico to build a strong commercial relationship where education is the key," he said.
Blackfoot Mayor Mike Virtue also praised LEAD's accomplishments, saying, "This is our community. What happens in our community, good or bad, is in our hands.
We celebrate our differences, knowing we all have common goals. We want our children and grandchildren to have the opportunity for education and success. Once this is established, the rest of the pieces will fall into place. I appreciate the efforts of all."
The event concluded Quezada unveiling of a large mural. Quezada, who was born in Mexico City and has lived in Aberdeen for 12 years, said, "I hope you like my art. I painted something to honor the people who come here to learn and work so hard."
The unveiling was the first time that the LEAD staff and members of the community had seen the painting, prompting cheers and applause from those present.
"I did not know what to expect," said Martinez. "This beautiful mural embodies everything that we support - education, hard work, and that's it's never too late to learn."
The mural will hang permanently inside LEAD's computer lab in the Partners for Prosperity building (625 W. Pacific St.) in Blackfoot.