Rodriguez Honored During Hispanic Heritage Month


Hempstead Town Hosting Special Ceremony October 1

Supervisor Kate Murray and the Hempstead Town Board will observe National Hispanic Heritage Month during a special ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 1 at Hempstead Town Hall. Eight local residents are to be honored for their contributions to the Hispanic community, their neighborhoods and Hempstead Town as a whole.

“The Hispanic Heritage Committee has selected eight outstanding honorees who have made significant contributions to their communities and have been role models for others,” Murray said. “It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to recognize the efforts of these fine individuals,” added Town Clerk Mark Bonilla, Hempstead’s first clerk of Hispanic heritage.

The 2009 Hispanic Heritage Month Award recipients are:

Manuel A. Rodriguez of Floral Park- a resident of Floral Park who is proud of his Ecuadorian heritage, Manuel worked in the mortgage banking industry upon his discharge from active duty in Iraq as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Manuel founded his own mortgage and real estate consulting company in 2000, helping members of the community to realize their dreams of home ownership. Previously honored by Hempstead Town for his service to fellow veterans, and a recipient of the Legionnaire of the Year award, Manuel currently serves as the vice commander in the Elmont American Legion Post 1033.  

Jose Garcia, Owner of La Sevillana Bakery & Café in Hempstead- born in Colombia, Jose is the owner of La Sevillana Bakery in Hempstead. Well known in the Hispanic community for his generosity, Jose has used his success to donate food to needy families, sponsor a soup kitchen and support a variety of community organizations and activities. He employs nearly 60 individuals from various cultural backgrounds and his plans to expand his business will provide further employment opportunities to area residents.    

John Zepeda of Inwood- born in Guatemala, John Zepeda started his own construction company, which employs five workers. He is well known for his voluntary work with Habitat for Humanity. John also donates one month each year to build affordable housing for the needy in countries including Nicaragua, Colombia, Equador and El Salvador. Involved with El Circulo de la Hispanidad, Zepeda helps to collect and distribute clothing and winter jackets for the needy.

Reverend Jose Pichardo of Blessing House Christian Church in Baldwin- born in the Dominican Republic, Rev. Pichardo established Baldwin’s Blessing House Christian Church in 2002. For the past seven years, Blessing House has served the needs of the Baldwin community, developing outreach programs that provide food and clothing to the needy and the homeless. Reverend Pichardo is a founding member of the Long Island Hispanic Pastoral Association and has earned respect and admiration from the community he serves.

Nancy Rodriguez of Valley Stream- a resident of Valley Stream of Puerto Rican heritage, Nancy Rodriguez is a woman who has helped to enrich the lives of children through her extensive volunteer work. From the Valley Stream PTA and Girl Scouts to advocating for children with special needs and coaching PAL soccer and baseball teams, Nancy has volunteered her time to a number of community organizations while operating her own computer consulting firm.  

Juana Duran, owner of Seaford’s Majestic Salon & Spa- born in the Dominican Republic, Juana Duran is owner of one of the most prominent salons in Seaford. Juana gives back to the community, organizing fundraisers benefiting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the March of Dimes, Hurricane Katrina victim relief and children with terminal illnesses. She serves on the board of the Seaford Chamber of Commerce and was awarded Business Person of the Year by the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce in 2006.

Ligia Ramirez of Bellmore- a resident of Bellmore of Puerto Rican descent, Ligia Ramirez has made her career in the banking industry since 1985. Her work ethic, determination and professionalism allowed Ligia to rise to the top of her field through many industry mergers and acquisitions. Currently a vice president and senior business development officer at New York Community Bank, Ligia is active in many volunteer associations and serves as president of her Rotary Club. Additionally, Ramirez is past president of the Hispanic Counseling Center, a member of the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and 100 Hispanic Women of Long Island.  

Manuel F. Martinez, owner of Utopia Home Care of Rockville Centre- Manuel Martinez is the owner of Utopia Home Care, a family owned and operated home health agency based in Rockville Centre. The agency was ranked among the 25 fastest growing private companies on Long Island and has been the number one minority-owned firm for the last 10 years. Martinez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is the recipient of many awards including Long Island Hispanic Businessman of the Year, Nassau County’s Trailblazer Award and the Long Island Latin Leaders Award. A board member of United Way of Long Island and former president of the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Manuel Martinez has deservingly been heralded for his success and dedication to business leadership on Long Island.

Delivering the keynote address will be Dr. Harold A. Fernandez. Smuggled from Colombia as a child, Dr. Fernandez went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School and is currently a thoracic heart surgeon at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.  

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, original paintings, drawings and writings from local Hispanic artists will be on exhibit in the lobby of Hempstead Town Hall, located at One Washington Street in Hempstead. Viewing will be during Town Hall business hours, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.  

“This celebration recognizes the unique imprint that Hispanic Americans have been making on our nation and on the Town of Hempstead,” Supervisor Murray said. “We take pride in the dynamic and increasing role that this vital component of the town’s family plays in shaping the character of our nation and are so delighted to have an opportunity to honor these individuals.”


Leave a Reply