MOLINE, Ill. — National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, bringing many festive events to the Quad Cities.
However, it's organizations like the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that work hard to support Hispanic-owned businesses year-round.
For business owners like Virginia Castro, the local Hispanic community has given her customers and friends.
"It feels like just a big family," Castro said. "Everybody knows everybody, everybody tries to help everybody. You know, I feel part of the community and I love it."
Her store on 15th Street, Restaurante El Mariachi, made free tacos for a Sept. 22 block party organized by the Hispanic Chamber.
Castro has been a member since the Chamber was formed in 2008.
"It's brought me a lot of business," she said. "I've made a lot of friends and contacts. It's a great organization that helps a lot of small business owners get started."
Castro also makes sure to give back to the community.
"Donating or if I can't donate my time, I like to donate gift certificates, food or whatever they need me to do that I'm able to do," she added.
The Chamber's Executive Director, Janessa Calderon, said the organization helps businesses in many ways.
"We do ribbon cuttings for small businesses, we also host different education programming as well," Calderon said. "And then we also try to help small business owners get foot traffic in the door as much as possible."
As for the festivities, everyone is welcome.
"You do not have to be Hispanic or Latino to participate in some of the events we have," Calderon added. "But you can celebrate alongside us."
Calderon hopes that an inclusive mindset comes to the Hispanic community as well.
"We focus on diversity, equity and inclusion as far as being a community pillar," she said. "So we're very humbled and excited to be in that kind of area."
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