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WICHITA FALLS – Tradition and passion will return to Wichita Falls over the next month as arts and cultural organizations celebrate the histories and contributions of Latinos or Hispanics.

At the Wichita Falls City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Stephen Santellana issued a proclamation in observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The Wichita Falls Alliance of Arts and Culture worked alongside Zavala Hispanic Cultural Initiative, Mexican American Veteran’s Association and Potencia Projects to present the proclamation.

Zavala Hispanic Cultural Initiative was founded in 2002. The nonprofit’s continued mission is to preserve the unique cultural gifts of Hispanic Heritage and to empower the Hispanic community to become fully engaged in overall community opportunities and challenges

“We empower the Hispanic community through scholarship and educational opportunities and the Summer Road To College program,” said Ruby Garrett, Zavala Board President. “We’re also cultural with our Zavala International Dancers. We also have different leadership opportunities. It is amazing to serve in the community and to spread our culture with other organizations.”

Potencia Projects provides outreach support to the local Hispanic community through event coordination and planning, marketing consultation, and community resources.

“Not only is it super cool that we have three organizations represented today, but there’s also a lot of people that need to be recognized in our community that really focus on our art and culture,” said Alicia Duran of Potencia Projects. “Thank you so much for your support. We really appreciate you.”

Members of the Mexican American Veterans Association of Wichita Falls were also represented on Tuesday. MAVA’s mission is to help, honor and remember every local United States veteran and their families for their service to our country and to ensure that every veteran lives the life of dignity that they deserve.

Jose Villastrigo, MAVA President, took time during the council meeting to remember the life of a former elected official and an Army veteran.

“I’d be remiss not to mention Mr. Ray Gonzalez, who was county commissioner for Precinct 1, a former city councilor and a Purple Heart veteran, ” said Jose Villastrigo, MAVA President. “He was a proud member of this country. He was a good man. He stood for a lot of things that we do.”

Villastrigo said when it comes to MAVA’s purpose, the keyword is veterans.

“We honor all veterans, no matter race or color,” Villastrigo said. “Our committee is very passionate about what we do.”

The proclamation presentation ended with a surprise performance by two members of Zavala International Dance, a program that teaches different styles of dance to any age individual that wants to participate.