“Anyone can succeed, they just need the tools and the opportunity. And your job on earth is to help at least one person – just one individual – and make sure she/he has the tools and the opportunity.”
As a kid growing up in Chicago, Hyram Montero believed he had lots of cousins – dozens and dozens of cousins. Weren’t all those kids living with them part of his family? For more than 10 years Hyram’s parents were hosts to more than 15 families. The Monteros were involved with the Refugee Resettlement program in Chicago and families stayed for up to three months. His parents were in charge of finding the families jobs and housing – always close to work. And Hyram was the social director for the children. He taught them to ice skate and how to play American football.
Many of the refugee professionals became teachers – following the lead of Mrs. Montero. (She was a graduate of the University of Havana with degrees in English and education and had spent a year at the University of Miami polishing up on her English skills. Soon after meeting her future husband, she married and moved from Cuba to Chicago in 1952.) Attorneys, psychologists and accountants became teachers using the teaching profession as their pathway to opportunity and success. Chicago never developed a “Cuban” neighborhood because families lived near work and thus scattered throughout Chicagoland.
The network of support was impressive and at the epicenter was La Unica – the Cuban grocery store where in addition to palomilla steak (beef loin sirloin) and café you also picked up the local “chisme” (gossip.)
Mr. and Mrs. Montero reared their children with a powerful philosophy: “Anyone can succeed, they just need the tools and the opportunity. And your job on earth is to help at least one person – just one individual – and make sure she/he has the tools and the opportunity.”
This family far exceeded their quota in Chicago.
And now Hyram Montero is living his parent’s philosophy in South Florida.
Hy is a Board Member Emeritus of Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) and leads the Montero Law Center in Ft Lauderdale. He’s been involved with HUF for more than a dozen years, “it’s an organization dear to me” he says. He has been involved with Take Stock in Children for 20 years mentoring six students. He is waiting to start his seventh mentorship. He remains close to all of his mentees and at times responds to calls at 2am asking for help. He Chairs the Light of the World Clinic, supports Henderson Behavioral Health and is now Vice President of his condo association. And, he takes on pro bono legal cases when he’s asked by HUF.
Hispanic Unity is important to him because he says “we share the same values” – passion for family, commitment, loyalty and respect for others.
He believes that the most important work that HUF does is to give people a sense of worth. “If people do not have confidence, they cannot succeed; confidence is the key to opening doors. HUF provides the foundation an individual needs to make it on his own. You are doing God’s work.”
The Montero Family created HUF in their basement twenty years before HUF incorporated in South Florida.
Yet our missions are the same – to build pathways to opportunity – to provide the tools – to give individuals “permission” to hope and dream and to help them become successful.
One family. One organization. A shared dream – the American dream.