Music, dancing, and great food set the festive mood as as County Executive Robert P. Astorino and the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honored Port Chester's Fabiola Montoya for her work in the community as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
The celebration at Sofrito Restaurant in White Plains drew more than 135 people and was emceed by reporter Ana Ledo from Noticias Univision 41.
“Hispanics are a vibrant and vital part of our community,” said Astorino. “Westchester has more than 600 Hispanic-run businesses that fuel our economy and are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. I am happy to honor three exceptional Hispanic Westchester County residents who have not only excelled in their careers, but have also taken time to give back to their communities.”
Fabiola Montoya was born in Columbia and has helped hundreds of immigrants study and register for the American citizenship exam in Port Chester, which has the largest Hispanic population in Westchester County at 59 percent.
She is a civic activist in her Port Chester, where she was the first Hispanic president of the PTA for the J.F.K Magnet School. She is a former board member at Open Door and a former board member of the Tamarack Tower Foundation.
Also honored were former New York Yankee Bernie Williams and Yonkers businessman Armano Rodriguez.
Bernie Williams is a Puerto Rican native and a retired New York Yankees baseball legend. He is now a successful contemporary jazz musician holding two Billboard #1 singles on his second album, Moving Forward. Williams is also a long-time spokesperson for the Pleasantville-based non-profit organization Hillside Food Outreach.
Armando Rodriguez is from Cuba and is president and CEO of A&A Maintenance, a national property maintenance company based in Yonkers. A&A Maintenance is one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in America. Rodriguez serves on the board of directors of the Westchester County Association, the Westchester Arts Council board of trustees, and the board of trustees at his alma mater Iona College.
Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized by Americans nationwide from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. It is a time for American citizens whose ancestors came from a variety of Spanish-speaking countries to celebrate their history and culture.
Westchester County has approximately 210,000 Hispanic residents who account for about 22 percent of the county’s population — an increase of nearly 16 percent since 2000. Nearly one in six Westchester County residents speaks Spanish at home.