By Analiz González
(DALLAS, Texas) — Sombreros and maracas decorated the tables on Sept. 16 at the Buckner Vickery Wellness Center in Central Dallas. Mariachi music blared from a stereo and rehiletes (papers the colors of the Mexican flag) rustled overhead, much like they do in Mexico.
Children and families celebrated their culture and Mexico’s independence from Spain during the 16 de Septiembre fiesta. It was the thirteenth year to celebrate this Mexican holiday at Vickery.
Dr. Albert Reyes, president of Buckner Children and Family Services, said Buckner is celebrating Hispanic heritage throughout the month of September as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Buckner serves children of many different cultural backgrounds and values the culture and heritage of each child and family,” Reyes said. “From the children and families we serve in colonias along the U.S.-Mexico border, to the families in the Dallas Vickery Wellness Center, our work in Mexico City, Juarez, and Arcelia, Mexico to communities across Texas and the United States, we celebrate the 16th of September and Hispanic heritage as an expression of our cultural identity and history.”
Dieciséis de Septiembre originated in 1810, when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Castillo rang the bell of his church and cried out for liberty. It was the beginning of Mexico’s war for independence from Spain.
Maria Pacheco, director of the Vickery Wellness Center, said it’s “important for us to be aware of where we came from,” as she looked out at a group of more than 150 people.
“A lot of the people in the community here really miss their home and this reminds them of their culture,” Pacheco said. “The ladies love to get involved and cook. They all bring in authentic food. It also helps to build community.”
Twelve-year old Michelle Calderon, who participates in Vickery’s after-school program, said the food is her favorite part.
“I ate chicken, rice, tacos and tamales,” Calderon said. “But I know it’s important to have these parties because it’s our culture and we need to keep our culture alive.”
Adelina Gonzalez, also in the after-school program, jumped in and said 16 de Septiembre makes her think of her mom.
“My grandpa owns a ranch and he gathers his family for parties like this,” Gonzalez said. “We listen to ranchera music and eat a lot of Mexican food. All these things are important to me because my mom was born in Mexico and I know that sometimes she misses it.”
Children living at the Rio Grande Children’s Home in Mission, Texas celebrated Mexican heritage by participating in a Hispanic Engineering Science and Technology (HESTEC) conference, which focused on showing them the importance of science literacy and encouraging them to consider careers in those fields.
Buckner in Mexico City celebrated 16 de Septiembre with Iglesia Bautista Horeb, a partner church with whom we conduct a new children’s group home called “La Familia.” And children in a Buckner-run group home in Juarez, Mexico called “Nuevo Amanecer” participated in a 16 de Septiembre parade.
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