Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- The Hispanic Heritage Committee served an array of Hispanic flavor during their Family Day Picnic at the Combat Center’s Victory Field Pavilion Oct. 1.
Families who came out to celebrate the event enjoyed a selection of Latin music that was put on by committee members all afternoon, children entertained themselves in the inflatable playpen Jupiter Jump and authentic Mexican food was served for a small price.
The event was held in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Beginning Sept. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile, whose independence was declared this month almost 200 years ago.
Everyone in the Combat Center and Twentynine Palms community were invited to celebrate by enjoying the music, food and atmosphere, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mario G. Villescas, committee director and Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School personnel officer.
“Our mission was to provide positive awareness in the Spanish-speaking community here,” said Villescas. “We want to give a chance to deserving Marines, Sailors, government employees and families here to know what exactly the committee does.”
The money the HHC raises during their events is donated to the community, said Villescas. Graduating high school students within the local community are given the opportunity to apply for a scholarship if they plan on attending college. Students can also submit a letter requesting a donation to attend an institution of training or education that is away from their home. After reviewing applications and letters, the HHC grants eligible applicants the needed financial aid if they qualify by meeting good educational standards.
Javier Lopez, Twentynine Palms High School 2005 graduate and nephew of a committee member, submitted a letter to the HHC requesting assistance to attend a forum in Washington D.C. for Hispanic people to form leadership skills. He was granted the funds he needed.
Three other 2005 Twentynine Palms High School graduates, Monica Covarrubias, Alexandra Tanksley and Ashley Carmenia, were granted scholarship money from the HHC for assistance to attend their respective college of choice.
Equally important, a letter was submitted from a family in the Twentynine Palms community regarding an unfortunate situation in their family, said Villescas. An elderly man was in poor health and needed medical treatment, but he and his family could not afford the proper treatment. The HHC donated money to the family for assistance. The man was then able to receive the appropriate medical treatment.
“Through these functions, we introduce the community to what we do and what we stand for,” said Villescas. “It’s a sense of positive reinforcement about the HHC. We plan to keep hosting events like this so we can continue to accomplish our goals. Then, when deserving high school graduates from the community apply for scholarships, there will be plenty of money we made that we can assist them with.”
“The event did well,” said Alberto Villescas, Marine Corps Community Services accountant and HHC member. “Everyone involved [in the committee] always shows a sense of camaraderie during these events. It feels good to help our people advance. They don’t have to be Hispanic people for the HHC to help them out. When people in the community need assistance, the committee will help. That’s what we are here for. It was also great that we all shared with others our culture, good food and music.”
The food, prepared by Staff Sgt. Jesse J. Silvas, court reporter, [Combat Service Support Group 1], was most appealing to all celebrators.
“When I heard the [HHC] was having a Family Day Picnic, I knew that there was going to be good food and good music,” said Pfc. Shawn P. Sales, combat illustrator, Alpha Company, Headquarters Battalion. “The [HHC] didn’t let me down. I had some great Mexican food and listened to good music. But I also got a chance to learn what the committee does.”
A poster naming the students who were awarded scholarships and the name of the family who received financial medical assistance was posted in front of the food table was.
“When I saw the poster in front of the food table, I was happy to see what the [HHC] does for the community,” added Sales. “While I was enjoying the picnic, I was also aware that we are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and, at the same time, helping out the community.”
“The [HHC] welcomes any Marine, Sailor, government employee or family member to become a part of the committee,” said Villescas.
The HCC is hosting a Hispanic Heritage Dance at Hashmarks, staff noncommissioned officer club, Saturday and all Combat Center personnel are invited, said Villescas.
For more information regarding the HHC, Villescas can be reached at 830-6266.