GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Thursday marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. A little over 10% of North Carolina’s population is Hispanic, according to census data.
WITN talked to one restaurant and an organization that serves the Hispanic community in Eastern Carolina to learn more about what they do.
Nearly everyone who visits Villa Verde knows Jay Bastardo. He’s the proud owner of the Greenville 10th Street restaurant that is rich with Dominican culture.
“Villa Verde, the name itself, means Greenville. But it’s where I’m from in the Dominican Republic,” Bastardo explained. He uses his business to serve Eastern Carolina, but also to share traditions.
“So when you talk about heritage, that’s what we did with this place,” Bastardo said. “We try to bring our culture, who we are, not only in the sense of cuisine, the way we cook back home, but in the way our people are. People have big hearts. We work really hard.”
Hispanic Heritage Month is much more than 30 days to Bastardo.
“We celebrate our culture every day,” Bastardo said. “The Latino community, as well all know, is one of the hardest working communities, period. But there’s far more to that. They’re loving, the faith aspect of it, the community aspect of Latinos in general.”
Another resource for the Hispanic community in Eastern Carolina is AMEXCAN.
“We’re one of the organizations in the eastern area that helps provide resources the Latino community doesn’t have access to,” AMEXCAN Operations Director Elizabeth Kremer said.
Kremer added that they use this month to teach.
“It’s very important just to educate the community who doesn’t know much about why we celebrate it. For us, it’s year-round. We celebrate it all the time, but this one month really helps us educate them in our culture,” Kremer said.
It’s also a time to look toward the future.
“The cool things about celebrating our history is that we can not only pass it down to future generations, but we can fix some of the things we did in the past,” Bastardo says.
AMEXCAN is hosting an English class this Sunday. It is virtual and starts at 6 p.m. More information can be found here.
Hispanic heritage month runs until October 15.
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