Empowering a new generation of Americans
“The Unity 4Teens program offered by Hispanic Unity was a wonderful experience for me.
It helped me to grow and create lifelong friends.” – Andrea Tovar Sambra
Meet Andrea: From Unity 4Teens Afterschool Program
to Physician Assistant in Training
Andrea Tovar Sambra first came to the United States when she was 11-years old. Leaving her native home in Colombia, she did not know anyone aside from her immediate family. To help Andrea become better acquainted with her new community, and to make new friends, her mother enrolled her in Hispanic Unity’s Unity 4Teens afterschool program.
Through the Unity 4Teens program, Andrea received academic support and had access to enrichment activities. She learned how to play sports, made lifelong friends and fine-tuned her conversational English, which she knew would be helpful in her professional and personal growth.
After several years in the program, Andrea received the ESL Student of the Year from her middle school.
Knowing the impact Hispanic Unity has on the community and on her experience, Andrea wanted to give back to HUF in the way it had given back to her. For ten years, Andrea has volunteered with HUF, dedicating numerous hours during her school breaks, to support HUF efforts. Her mother Norma also became part of the HUF team, supporting our accounting department.
Andrea graduated in May of 2014 with a degree in Biology from Nova Southeastern University – on a full scholarship! She was recently accepted into the Medical Assistant program at Broward College and plans to eventually become a Physician Assistant.
“I just love medicine. Since I can remember, it has always been my dream to help others, whether it was diagnosing their ailments or helping them find solutions to their health-related issues.” – Andrea Tovar Sambra
“For me, it is about giving back my experience and knowledge to help others,
so they can re-start their lives and be successful in the U.S. We lived it, we understand it.” – Maria Antonietta Diaz
Meet Maria: From Business Start-up to
Coach Inspiring Other Entrepreneurs
Before moving to the United States, Maria Antonietta Diaz had been an accountant working in Venezuela for more than ten years. A rare opportunity presented itself and Maria accepted a position in the U.S. It was two years, before she could officially make the move from her native Maracaibo, Venezuela in 1997.
Once in the U.S., Maria began to seek ways in which she could assist entrepreneurs. Her experience working in Venezuela provided the foundation for her new business, but she needed to overcome the hurdles every new business owner encounters. She was successful and that led her to the creation of additional services for her clients.
Maria founded GBS Group and is now its CEO. GBS is a group of consulting companies, which specialize in business start-ups, financial and tax advice, business consulting and talent. They have more than 600 clients, 30+ employees and have been in business for 15 years. Maria is a natural businesswoman and her inspiration and driving force comes from assisting other Latin American entrepreneurs become successful. She is an active member in the community and has received numerous honors and recognitions for her work.
Although it was a long journey, Maria is proud of her accomplishments and feels a deep connection to her community.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is a great opportunity afforded to us in America to recognize the contributions Hispanics have made - and are making - in the U.S.” she said. “I am a proud U.S. Citizen. I have lived firsthand the opportunities available in this great country. My family and I feel blessed - we are able to contribute to and enjoy a country that offers safe harbor and a bright future.” – Maria Antonietta Diaz
Maria Antonietta and her husband Jorge reside in the City of Weston with their two kids Andreina (19) and Jorge Jr. (23).
“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.
“We owe Edgar Armando’s –and our family’s success– to hard work and in great measure to Hispanic Unity’s incredible support and services.” – Edgar Peralta Sr.
When Edgar Armando Peralta landed with his family from Colombia as a 12 year old, he probably didn’t imagine that one day he’d be working on cutting-edge technology at one of the world’s premier universities.
In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, the September 2013 issue of “Nature” magazine features an article by a team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University – which includes Edgar. The team developed a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice.
Because it employs commercial lasers and low-cost, mass-production techniques, the researchers believe it will set the stage for new generations of "tabletop" accelerators.
At its full potential, the new “accelerator on a chip” could match the accelerating power of SLAC’s 2-mile-long linear accelerator in just 100 feet, and deliver a million more electron pulses per second.
Upon they arrival in South Florida, Edgar Armando, together with his parents and sister, availed themselves of practically every HUF service – health care, employment, financial literacy courses and the after-school program.* A dedicated and brilliant student, he decided to pursue his doctoral studies in Applied Physics at Stanford.
Founded more than 30 years ago, Hispanic Unity of Florida (HUF) has served as South Florida's Ellis Island for new immigrants arriving in South Florida. Serving 20,000 clients annually from 25 different countries - in three languages - HUF works with the whole family - with different generations simultaneously - to provide each individual needs at their particular stage in life.
Today, HUF clients reflect our community’s diversity with 40% of our clients being non-Hispanic. HUF is located in South Florida, a region that has the highest number of educated immigrants in all of the U.S. The agency provides clients with the tools they need to create a new life, as well as serving as a bridge for them to the larger community.
To read more, click here.
Juan Carlos Arias – Board Member Emeritus
We are proud to announce that Juan Carlos Arias, who has been serving on Hispanic Unity's Board of Directors since 2006, has now become a Board Member Emeritus. He – and his whole family – have played a critical role in helping HUF grow during those years.
Juan Carlos was instrumental in helping us raise funds for our preschool. He also helped to launch HUF’s collaboration with Legal Aid Service of Broward County, Catholic Charities Legal Services and the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association a collaboration called BLIP, which provides free legal immigration services in three languages. During his time on the HUF Board, Juan Carlos, Zaida and their daughter Angelica were involved in numerous HUF events, including our galas. The whole Arias family is deeply committed to HUF’s mission and continue their volunteer involvement.
Please join us in thanking the entire Arias family and for congratulating Juan Carlos on this special distinction!
Meet Robert Taylor:
Owner and President of BBI, a 60 year old agency that represents food and snack companies across the country, Robert Taylor is committed to his work and giving back to his community. He is a a large supporter of Hispanic Unity of Florida as well as other organizations such as Sheridan House, First Priority and Habitat for Humanity. Robert is the father of two girls and has been married to his wife Elizabeth for more than 26 years.
“I am involved with Hispanic Unity because we believe in Hispanic Unity’s mission and wish to support it.”
Jorge Gonzalez is a wonderful volunteer leader who is dedicated to our mission. A certified public accountant, Jorge currently serves as the Treasurer of our Board of Directors and also chairs the HUF Finance Committee. We are proud to announce that Jorge became part of the JM Family Executive Management Team as he was recently named Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Jorge joined JM Family back in 2004 as Vice President of Corporate Taxes. We are so very proud of you, Jorge and wish you much success in the new position!
Emerging Entrepreneurs is Hispanic Unity’s Small Business program. Realizing the need in our community for entrepreneurship education and business support, Hispanic Unity and Broward SCORE partnered to offer a comprehensive program based on Broward SCORE’s 5 Simple Steps model for starting and running a successful business. These services are helpful for those who are looking to start or reinvent their current businesses. Due to the positive community response, we have even expanded our entrepreneurial services and are now offering standalone workshops in both English and Spanish.
In case you missed it Hispanic Unty and Broward SCORE were recently featured in a CBS4 Focus on South Florida interview. Learn more about the partnership and how to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities available to entrepreneurs and small business owners. To view the video, please click here.
For more information on the Emerging Entrepreneurs program, please click here.