Traditional Folklorico dancers entertain guests during the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce 2012 annual awards banquet at First Baptist Church, Friday evening. Mark Wilson Photo
The Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce celebrated 25 years in business at its annual awards banquet on Friday at First Baptist Church, recognizing local businesses and community members for outstanding contributions.
Rudy and Mary Lou Burrola, of CRM Discount Awards & Screen Printing, were presented with the Don and Doña award of respect, honored for decades of service in the Roswell community. Sofia Gottlieb, Hispano Chamber executive assistant, said the Don and Doña is traditionally awarded to a husband and wife in acknowledgement of valuable work that has received little or no recognition.
“They’ve contributed so much,” Gottlieb said. “… When we do our annual awards, it is to honor people who have gone that extra mile for us, supporting us in so many different ways — not just by being members, but participating in any of the activities that we have. … And if we ever needed help with anything, they were always willing to volunteer.”
Rudy, who for many years served as director of the Boys & Girls Club, commented, “It feels wonderful. It’s a great honor to be recognized by the Hispano Chamber on its Silver Anniversary.
“… We just do as much as we can for the city, the county and especially the youth. Working from football to baseball, basketball, racquetball, all the activities with the youth for the past 30 years, this makes it even more special when you’re honored for your efforts. It’s hard to explain — it’s just a great feeling.”
Rudy said the work that the Hispano Chamber has done in the community since it was founded in 1987 is immeasurable. “They’ve been busy for 25 years, doing all sorts of things in the community: the Piñata Fest, parades, they give scholarships to help kids go to college. It’s just a great organization to have in our community.”
Other Hispano Chamber awards included Large Business of the Year, Home Depot; Small Business of the Year, Clara Mauritsen of State Farm Insurance; Organization of the Year, AFSCME Local Union; Humanitarian of the Year, former RISD Superintendent Michael Gottlieb; Community Service of the Year, New Mexico Youth ChalleNGe; and Volunteers of the Year, Bianca Rodriguez, Jasmine “Jazzy” Rodriguez and Shantal Rodriguez.
R.G. Bobby Villegas, founding president of the Hispano Chamber, was the featured speaker, and shared history of the organization. He said that from 1990 to the present, the Hispanic community’s population in Roswell has risen from 36 to 52 percent, stressing how important it is that everyone works together.
“It’s important that all of us, whether Hispanic, Anglo or African-American, ask the question: Where is our community going with these numbers? How do we work together? The rate our Hispanic community is going, we’re going to be a 60, 65 percent majority.
“… At some point in time we will have to understand that we just have one community. We might have different cultures, and we have Democrats, we have Republicans, but when it comes to the bottom line — this is everybody’s city. The more we work together to take care of it, the better our city is going to be, and the better our education is going to be for our kids. The stranglehold that you see in Washington — we don’t want that to happen in our city, at all.”
Villegas praised Mayor Del Jurney, who also spoke at the event, for consistently reaching out to the Hispanic community. “Mayor Jurney is actually the first mayor who ever reached out to our Hispanic community. We’re proud of him. He came out and said he wants this community to get together. He visits our community, he visits with our Hispano Chamber. He understands that, yes, we’re supposed to be different — our cultures are different — but they’re not wrong. We only have to respect each others’ culture. We don’t even have to try to understand it — respect it just because it is. Those are the important factors.
“Let’s just work together. That’s all we need to do. Just work together. Let’s get rid of our egos. Put our egos aside, our petty differences.
We can have our petty differences in little-bitty organizations, but when it comes to our city, we cannot afford that for our kids’ sake.”