More than 150 people attended the event to support El Barrio Workforce Development, a program of West Side Ecumenical Ministry (WSEM).
“This event was a fun way to experience the warmth of the Latin America culture without leaving Cleveland,” said Ingrid Angel, Director of El Barrio. “And for those of us of Latin American descent; it reminded us of the food and music of home.”
Latin Jazz Band Rice & Beans performed as well as a Latin inspired folk duet between musical artist Emily Pinkerton and Marcia Moreno, El Barrio’s Director of Business Development. The duet between Emily and Marcia featured romantic songs of the 1970s.
Artists and photographers, Natalia Botero-Oliver, of Colombia, and Alejandro Rivera, a Mexican-born artist who now lives in Cleveland, displayed their photos for purchase.
Guests enjoyed bidding on nearly 20 silent auction items, ranging from a three-night stay at a Manhattan condo, to staycations with entertainment at area hotels, to Latin-American inspired packages like “Tasting Colombia,” “Tasting Chile,” and “Tasting México.”
During the evening, Angel recognized The Home Depot as the 2008-2009 El Barrio Corporate Partner of the Year and DeAnn Munks, a volunteer teacher of English as a Second Language classes, as El Barrio Volunteer of the Year.
In 2010, El Barrio will celebrate 20 years of helping youth and adults in need obtain self-sustaining jobs through supportive services, free training and/or educational programs. Last year, El Barrio helped more than 1,100 youth and adults, and the need is growing.
“We are seeing a 30 percent increase in individuals from last year coming through our doors saying things like ‘I was laid off last week’ from industries ranging from manufacturing to customer service,” said Angel. “That’s why this event was so important in helping to raise funds to continue offering our services.”