On October 5, it was my great privilege to kick off Rural Development (RD) and the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) joint celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium. The theme for this month’s celebration is “Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America.”
The event was a great success. A wonderfully diverse crowd came out to learn, mingle, and celebrate a community that is playing a bigger and bigger role in our society every day. I really enjoyed hearing from my colleagues Judith Canales (Administrator for RD Business and Cooperative Programs) and Richard Chavez (Team Leader for Civil Rights Outreach and Compliance, FAS) who served on a panel, sharing words of wisdom in a discussion on Hispanic heritage and career and family life. And the crowd was delighted by David Gonzalez, an author and musician who showcased his mix of poetry, song and Hispanic folklore.
I am so proud of the work we do in Rural Development and the Foreign Agricultural Service to bring people together and cultivate relationships with the Hispanic community, both in the United States and around the globe. As Administrator for Rural Development’s Housing and Community Facilities programs, I see firsthand every day how our programs are making a real difference in the lives of rural Americans across the nation. In the past year alone, we helped over 13,000 low- and moderate-income Hispanic families in rural communities achieve the dream of homeownership, strengthening communities and providing an economic boost in difficult times.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor the contributions and celebrate the great cultural traditions of the Hispanic-American community. It is vital that we understand and appreciate the rich diversity of the Hispanic-American population while celebrating the commonalities that draw the community together.
With just a few days remaining in National Hispanic Heritage Month, I hope folks will take a few moments to reflect on what makes this nation great: our unparalleled diversity, and our ability to weave an array of cultures and backgrounds into one vibrant American fabric.