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HUF Celebrates 35 Years

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 10:21am

HUF Celebrates 35 Years

In commemoration of HUF’s 35th Anniversary, and to honor the enormous contributions along this journey, HUF is publishing a selection of client stories and guest blogs written by HUF collaborators. Our aim is to celebrate our social impact, and in some cases, continue conversations set aside nearly thirty-five years ago.


To read our "35 Years Blog" click here




Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - 4:48pm

Get all the details on voting for the November 8th General Election and key deadlines. Click here to learn more about voting in Broward County; click here to learn about voting in Miami-Dade County.  



Register - by mail - EXTENDED Deadline, Oct. 18

Friday, October 7, 2016 - 10:26am

Get all the details on how to register to vote and key deadlines. Click here to learn more about the voter registration process in Broward County; click here to learn about the voter registration process in Miami-Dade County.  



VITA Services Could Save You $150

Monday, February 8, 2016 - 10:33am


Individuals without children and working families who earned $54,000 or less in 2015, could save up to $150 with free tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. 

This year, services will be provided at 14 permanent tax sites at local nonprofits and at 20+ mobile tax sites at partner locations throughout Broward. Trained IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers will assist individuals in English, Spanish, French, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese and American Sign-Language at designated tax sites. Tax preparers will also determine an individual’s eligibility for special tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly and education credits to maximize tax payer returns.

Working families and individuals are encouraged to call 2-1-1 or 954-537-0211 or visit to find the nearest VITA tax site. 

The Broward community-wide initiative is made possible by the Children’s Services Council of Broward County (CSC), an independent taxing authority established to enhance the lives of Broward County’s children, the IRS, Hispanic Unity of Florida and United Way of Broward County. Other key partners and funders include: 211 Broward, Bank of America, Baptist Health South Florida, Broward College, Broward County’s Family Success Administration, Broward County Libraries, Community Access Center, DeVry University, HandsOn Broward, Nova Southeastern University, Sheridan Technical College, SunTrust Bank and Third Federal Savings & Loan.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) - Enrollment Starts Nov. 1

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 10:22am









Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Friday, October 9, 2015 - 4:20pm

During Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we are honored to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of Hispanics living in our community.


2015 Hispanic Heritage Month

“Every day is special. Every day should be celebrated. I celebrate my Hispanic heritage daily." - Beatriz Miniaci

Meet Beatriz Miniaci:

War - yellow stars worn on clothing and concentration camps propelled two young people -- he from Romania and she from Austria -- to flee their native countries. They arrived in Chile, eventually met, fell in love, married and gave birth to Beatriz and then a second daughter.

Her parents’ experience and other world events, in Europe in the early 20th century, helped to shape Beatriz Miniaci’s life and her world view.

Beatriz was born in Santiago, Chile. Her parents were economically comfortable and this carefree, multilingual (Spanish, German, English and Hebrew) teenager loved her life.  

Already scarred and somewhat traumatized by persecution, Beatriz’s parents became increasingly alarmed about the political climate in Chile. Alarm grew to concern and eventually the family was on the move again - this time not as war refugees but as immigrants.  

They pulled up stakes – carrying only one suite case each – and left their home, Chile, and everything else behind so they could quickly move to safety. It was not until they found refuge in the United States that Beatriz recounted her family’s experience and fear of persecution. They felt safe in the U.S. and that there was no other place to go. (At HUF we often hear the same from other immigrants: “We came here because want to feel safe.”)

After becoming acclimated, Beatriz and her family had short stints in Washington, D.C. and Miami Beach. However, it was some time before they set down deeper roots in New Jersey and Long Island.  

While living in the U.S., Beatriz realized how much she loved being an American – it was even as much as she loved being Chilean. And, out of all the memories – both good and bad - the most memorable “American” moment to Beatriz was becoming a U.S. Citizen at 18. It touched her heart deeply.

“Every day is special. Every day should be celebrated. I celebrate my Hispanic heritage daily,” she said.

Beatriz’s earliest memories about the U.S. is learning English from newspapers and books with the help from neighbors.  And there was that brief magical day at the Fontainebleau where she wore an organza dress with yellow polka dots and sang her heart out. She doesn’t recall if she and her sister won the signing contest – but she recalls the gorgeous dress and the magic of the day.

Not all was lovely. In NJ the girls were called “Jewish coffee beans” because they had yet to perfect their English skills. Years later, one of Beatriz’s first community volunteer activities was to read books to the visually impaired. She loved reading in English and loved how the English language sounded to her ear.

More than 30 years ago, Beatriz joined a very small group of individuals who sought a different approach to health – through nutrition, exercise and nature. She remains committed to health and continues in this field.

And today, Beatriz is best known through her community and philanthropic work. She and husband Albert support a number of local and national organizations. Most of which involve children and many an educational component. One gift was even a request by Tony Bennett (yes the Tony Bennett). The passion for giving back is a family affair. Beatriz, Albert and the children are mindful of what they have and are committed to the concept of paying it forward. Beatriz and Albert have been especially kind to HUF. They have opened their home, wallets and rolodex on the agency’s behalf. They have adopted our preschoolers for the holidays and provided scholarships. Most recently they provided seed funding for a new Family Strengthening program.

Beatriz has both her mother and mother-in-law as role models. Her mother-in-law, Mrs. Rose Miniaci, frequently reminds her that the more you give the more you receive and therefore you should keep on giving. Both Rose and Alfred Miniaci (Beatriz’s in-laws) were both born in Italy and as first generation Americans understand the immigrant experience. “Rose has simple needs and is giving all the time.”

This is quintessential Beatriz – an authentic individual who loves life, speaks her mind and gives generously.  Beatriz believes that whatever she doesn’t spend – she can “pay it forward to someone else who can use it and needs it.” 

 "I felt that America gave me the opportunity to affect change, to do something that would improve how others (and myself) lived. America did not disappoint." - Gus Vidaurreta


Meet Gus Vidaurreta:

At age 13, Gus Vidaurreta had to leave behind everything he knew. He and his family left Cuba (where his father was a political prisoner) in search of a better life. They traveled to Spain, then the U.S., where at 15 Gus had his first job: delivering the Miami Herald at 3 a.m., seven days a week, driving a $50 car without a license.

Despite the challenges before him, Gus adapted to life in the U.S. gracefully. Gregarious in nature, he's quick with a smile and enjoys speaking to strangers. "I remember my assimilation into the U.S. culture as having been easy," he says. "I don’t know why, I was poor, did not speak the language, played a sport that no one else played (soccer), my hair was too long … but still, I found it easy, maybe because I love the country and its people so much."

Now an author, successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and proud Hispanic American, Gus is a community leader. He founded the Systems Consulting Group (SCG), a full service information systems consulting firm (later purchased by Cambridge Technology Partners (CTP) for $30 million). He co-founded Top Secret Nutrition; owned Adjoined Consulting, P&O Packaging and Horizon Bank; co-founded RAM Strategy, Inc., a consulting, training and executive coaching firm; and wrote the popular book, Business Is a Contact Sport. He also helped form the Board of Advisors of Mobiquity, Inc. and was recently selected to join the Board of Directors of the Centro Mater charity organization. He has two daughters and a wife he adores, and eventually plans to run for office with a message of inclusivity: "Proud of who I am and happy for who you are."

Above all, Gus sees America as a land of promise and community: "I felt that America gave me the opportunity to affect change, to do something that would improve how others (and myself) lived. America did not disappoint." 

Meet Gus Vidaurreta at HUF’s Entrepreneur Summit on Oct, 8  at NSU. Ricardo is part of the Keynote Panel of outstanding and successful entrepreneurs. He also will receive the 2015 American Dreamer Award.

“We have such a diverse and rich culture, it should be explored all of the time, not just on vacations and cruises." – Yvonne Lopez

Meet Yvonne Lopez: 

Growing up, Yvonne Lopez and her family didn't have a lot of money, but they did have plenty of love. Born and raised in the Bronx, Yvonne and her four siblings were inspired by their mom, a single woman who made the most of challenging circumstances. From candlelit dinners when the Con Edison bill couldn’t be paid to a Christmas tree made from a broom stick and a bed sheet, she was always creative, and the family learned to make the most of everything they had and to do all things with love. 

Like many others, Yvonne's family shared the dream of "making it" -- getting out of the neighborhood and getting an education, and Yvonne and her siblings did exactly that, earning college degrees, raising families, engaging in community service, and owning homes, all of which made their mother (who passed away in 2002) deeply proud. 

As part of her commitment to philanthropy, Yvonne has been sitting on the Hispanic Unity of Florida's Board for many years; spends time with her two little brothers from the Big Brother, Big Sisters program; and volunteers with the girls from house 3610 at SOS Children’s Village. She attributes her dedication to charitable causes to lessons learned from her mother: help others with open arms, treat people as though they're special, and smile often.  

Yvonne has been one of HUF’s longest serving board member – 13 years. Her second tour of duty at HUF ends December 2015. She has been Board Chair, and held other officer level positions; she has led numerous committees including most recently marketing. Yvonne has been a steadfast and vocal advocate and ambassador and has rolled up her sleeves with assistance in the public relations area. When not engaged in her work as Community Relations Director for the City of Coconut Creek, she takes lots of photographs to capture special moments, nature and people.  

Yvonne sees education as the foundation for success, and believes inner-city/low income neighborhood schools need to be up to par with their suburban peers. This is her vision of the American dream, and part of what she's helping to work towards through her many contributions. Her commitment to HUF reflects her love for Hispanic culture, and as she says with a smile: "We have such a diverse and rich culture, it should be explored all of the time, not just on vacations and cruises."  

"Our family’s American dream is not unlike any other: to have access to new opportunities. I come from a humble home, and I take nothing for granted. Not the ability to drive my own car to work, owning my home and having a successful, growing business." - Ricardo Villadiego


Meet Ricardo Villadiego

Born in Colombia, Ricardo Villadiego came to the U.S. at age 30 -- and brought his company, Easy Solutions, with him. He saw opportunity in the American market, and was committed to leveraging the power of technology and creating a brighter future, all while honoring his Hispanic heritage. Fast forward to now, and his business is a global leader in electronic fraud prevention. 

"I feel very fortunate to have the opportunities that I’ve had thus far and to have built a growing company that employs more than 160 people and contribute in a meaningful way both as a company that helps protect organizations and consumers from fraud as well as at a local level – to provide opportunities to young people with limited resources to develop their potential through education and enable them to become entrepreneurs," Ricardo says.

Before founding his own company, Ricardo worked in high-level positions at IBM, Internet Security Systems, Trend Micro, and Unisys Corporation, winning awards for his high sales figures and leadership. As an entrepreneur, Ricardo says his skills including creative persistence and resilience have helped him thrive. He also offers words of advice to budding businessmen and women: "Have a vision, stick to your vision, but recognize things are going to change and allow yourself to adapt."

Above all, he believes in the American dream and the power of perseverance. "Our family’s American dream is not unlike any other: to have access to new opportunities. I come from a humble home, and I take nothing for granted. Not the ability to driving my own car to work, owning my home and having a successful, growing business. "

Meet Ricardo Villadiego at HUF’s Entrepreneur Summit on Oct, 8  at NSU. Ricardo is part of the Keynote Panel of outstanding and successful entrepreneurs. He also will receive the 2015 American Dreamer Award.

 “It is important for me to give back to the program that gave me so much support as a toddler. It is because of the teachers that cared that I love learning and reading.”- Kelly Pinilla

Meet Kelly Pinilla:

Kelly Pinilla may be young, but she’s accomplished. The now 11-year-old athlete, academic and philanthropist first discovered her passion for learning at age three, when she was introduced to Hispanic Unity of Florida’s Family Literacy program.

As her mother attended adult ESOL classes, Kelly learned the alphabet, colors, numbers, and how to read. She was enthralled, and what she remembers most is “learning how to write [my] name, learning the importance of reading, learning English, getting to play in the new playground, and teamwork,” she says.  

Now, Kelly is entering sixth grade at Ramblewood Elementary in Coral Springs, Florida, and is actively involved in academic, sports, and community service activities. For the last two years she’s made her school’s science and mathematics teams and joined them in the SECME Science competition and Math Olympiad. Kelly’s remarkable prowess in the classroom has allowed her to score 5’s in reading and mathematics FCAT/state examinations, repeatedly achieve straight A’s on her report cards, and earn acceptance to the Great Explorations in Mathematics (GEM) program where she’ll be learn high school mathematics in middle school.

In sports, Kelly is an avid swimmer, figure skater, and runner. She obtained four Junior Olympic times in 50 m backstroke and 100 m backstroke (short course and long course). In her two half 5K races she reached 2nd and 3rd place in her age category.

The 11-year-old dynamo is also committed to giving back. Last summer she created her own community service project to provide swimming playtime for kids with disabilities. She raised almost $400 dollars by placing lemonade stands at swimming competitions and making her own bracelets in support of the Michael Lomberg swimming foundation and the U.S. Paralympics team. In addition, Kelly actively volunteers her time reading to three to five year olds at HUF’s Unity4Kids program. “It is important for me to give back to the program that gave me so much support as a toddler,” she says. “It is because of the teachers that cared that I love learning and reading.”

More than anything, Kelly wants to serve as an example to other generations of Hispanic students. As she learned during her time at HUF, she hopes she can inspire them to believe that anything they set their mind to is not only possible, but entirely doable.

To quote an old saying, “the apple does not fall too far from the tree.” Kelly’s mother is a regular HUF volunteer and her sister – soon to be a graduate of the University of Miami - has been volunteering at HUF since she was 14 years old and has left an indelible mark on HUF’s Citizenship program.

Save the Date: 2015 E-Summit

Monday, August 3, 2015 - 11:43am



Event Information Below - Click here for Event Website


Established and emerging new business owners, Fortune 500 companies successful entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, governmental agencies, chambers of commerce, small business experts and small business resources, educational institutions, marketing gurus, media, and more. Anticipate 250-400 attendees based on the attendance from the past three years.


Thursday, October 8, 2015


Nova Southeastern University

Carl DeSantis Building | 3301 College Avenue | Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314

FREE Parking on second floor 

Ticket Price:

Complimentary Sponsored Admission


Online- Available at


12:45 pmRegistration Opens

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm – Plenary Session, The New America Is Here! Planning for a Color Brave Society

2:45 pm – 3:45 pm  

Workshop 1:  Are you Latin Ready? ™  

Workshop 2:  Strategic Thinking for Leaders: Building a Lean Culture

Workshop 3:  Different Ways to Fund Your Future

4:00 pm– 5:00 pm 

Workshop 4:   The Entrepreneur’s Approach to Becoming a Trusted Advisor: Trust & Relationship Selling 

Workshop 5:   60 Marketing Ideas in 60 Minutes

Workshop 6:   10 Principios Para Acelerar el Crecimineto de su Negocio (Spanish)                                                                   

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm – Get Connected Reception for Attendees  

6:15 pm – Keynote Panel/American Dream Awards

7:30 pm – Program Ends

Sponsorships available! To view the E-Summit sponsorship opportunities, click here

For more information on sponsorships contact: Josie Bacallao, 954-683-2028, 



Congratulations to Memorial Healthcare System!

Monday, July 27, 2015 - 3:31pm

Congratulations to our partner, Memorial Healthcare System, for launching Broward County’s First Adult Heart Transplant Program!

Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute is the first in Broward County to perform adult heart transplants. After Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital at Memorial performed Broward’s first children’s heart transplant in 2010, Memorial is first again to care for every heart, at every age and in every stage as part of its Total Heart Center.

The heart transplant team is led by some of the top transplant cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in the country, trained at prestigious universities and highly respected hospitals. They deliver patient- and family-centered care and provide new hearts to treat a variety of conditions. Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute also offers a spectrum of Total Heart Services, including interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, peripheral vascular intervention, heart failure disease management, vascular surgery and cardiac rehab and adult congenital heart disease, among others.

Memorial Healthcare System supports Hispanic Unity of Florida’s healthcare service, Te Ayudo, a comprehensive healthcare initiative designed to assist Hispanics and other Broward County residents with accessing healthcare benefits and services.

Te Ayudo combines outreach, education, and enrollment interventions to comprehensively address the needs of low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals and families. Te Ayudo utilizes social marketing, assertive outreach, and a visible community presence to reach targeted individuals and families.

HUF is also honored with the service of Board of Director, Melida Akiti. At Memorial, she is the Vice President of South Broward Community Health Services/Memorial Healthcare System. She also serves on the Governance Committee for HUF. To learn more about HUF’s Board of Directors and Committees, visit:

Learn more about Memorial’s Cardiac and Vascular Institute at and more about Memorial Healthcare System at


Hispanic Unity Named NCLR’s 2015 Southeast Affiliate of the Year

Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 3:04pm

Hollywood, FL, July 15, 2015 – Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) has been named the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) 2015 Southeast Affiliate of the Year. HUF was awarded the special designation at the conclusion of NCLR’s Annual Conference held in Kansas City, Missouri from July 11-14. For 33 years, HUF, serving as the Ellis Island of South Florida, has provided community members with more than 30 services across 12 program areas in four languages, including: civic engagement, education, economic development and healthcare.

To read more, click here.

The American Dream: Possible at Any Age

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 10:09am


The American Dream: Possible at Any Age

More than 30 years

That's how long it took for Hugo and Martha Abadia to become U.S. Citizens.

To their horror, the family petition his sister filed in 1984 was sitting in a desk and untouched for more than two years. They had no idea. And because of the length of time, they forgot that a family petition was filed.

But on a whim, and three days before their petition was going to be thrown out, Hugo and Martha decided to visit the embassy in Bogota. It was then that their prayers were answered and in 1999, Hugo, Martha and their youngest daughter of four traveled to the U.S. in hopes of starting a new life. And they did, setting down roots in California.

Like many immigrants they were unsure of how to start and anxious to find employment.

Hugo, who sold his bus business to pay for the plane tickets and other expenses to come to America, began his U.S. career working for a hotel. Martha, who was a school teacher back in Bogota, still found a way to immerse herself in education by working for a company that packaged educational materials. She was paid $7.25 an hour. They were happy to find work so quickly.

But then, crisis struck.

To read more, click hereTo learn more about our Citizenship and Naturalization services, click here.

Eugenio R. Torres, Founder of Hispanic Unity
shares HUF’s early years in his:

Click Here

Hispanic Unity of Florida: Client Stories

Hispanic Unity was founded more than 34 years ago by community leaders to ease the acculturation transition for newcomers from other nations. Today this nonprofit provides assistance through 12 programs and 30+ services, in four languages, to Broward's diverse community. Hispanic Unity remains the county's largest agency dedicated to the immigrant population, providing them with the tools they need to build a new life. In 2015, the agency served 17,000+ clients, from toddlers to adults.