Connecticut Latinos Reflect On Giving Thanks This Holiday


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By Wayne Jebian

While in some respects, this year has been better than last year; so far there have been some  exceptions, such as those for Metro North riders and anyone who has spent this year recovering from last year’s disasters. We’ve all experienced the difficult times and Dr. Jose B Gonzalez, the Salvadoran-born professor of English at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, who also compiles the national Latino authors’ book list every year, perhaps put it best, “Last year’s tragedies in Connecticut reminded me that we cannot take for granted the breaths that we and our children take. Thanksgiving for me is a time for exhaling, inhaling, and holding my wife and children close to me. “
As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday,  CTLatinoNews spoke with a random sampling of high-profile Connecticuters about what they might be thankful for; even those living under a cloud can readily think of a few things. 
Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez and Maria Perez
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Topping this “trooper” category is former Mayor Eddie Perez, who sat before a judge in February in an appeal to stay out of prison…and is still waiting. What is his former honor thankful for? Plenty: “My wife’s continued good health,” Perez said.  He continued, “Saturdays with my grandsons Noah and Evan and the grand opening of Su Seguro in Hartford,” referring to a new Park Street insurance agency for which he serves as vice president of business development.
Father Manship, St. Rose of Lima parish in New Haven
Father James Manship of St. Rose of Lima parish in New Haven could be said to have had a triumphant year, his tireless quest for justice vindicated when two West Haven police officers were found guilty of racial profiling and brutality toward Latinos. Yet Manship’s statement (in Spanish) about what he is  most thankful for was as humble as could be: “For this community of Santa Rosa de Lima, who have given me the privilege to accompany them to meet Jesus, the immigrant.”


Then there are those whom you almost don’t have to ask. State Representative Juan Candelaria (D-New Haven) is thankful to have been able to pass legislation allowing undocumented residents to apply for drivers’ licenses.  Dr. Wilfredo Nieves, President of Capital Community College, is most grateful for the 500-plus students who graduated from his institution this past spring.

However, number one in the “obvious” category is Judge Carmen Espinoza. If being nominated, confirmed and  sworn in as the 

Connecticut’s first Latina state Supreme Court justice weren’t enough, Espinoza heaps on additional thanks like sides on a turkey plate: “First and foremost, I am thankful that my wonderful family was healthy, happy and always supporting me, especially my children. I am so thankful that my 89 year-old mother was with me to witness my swearing in as a Supreme Court Justice. And, I am so thankful and proud of the support I received from the Hispanic community during my confirmation process and after I took my seat on the Court. I have so much to be thankful for this year that there is not enough space to list everything here. Suffice it to say that I am truly blessed.”
In the spirit of the coming holidays, CTLatinoNews had to hear from a minimum of three wise Latinas, we found more.   Contrasting the experiences of working on the Meriden city council versus the Connecticut General Assembly, state representative Hilda Santiago (D-Meriden) wrote in an email, “I am most thankful for being able to represent my constituents at a different level. Being a Representative has put a different perceptive on issues that affect them. The other fun part of my job was meeting Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.”
Being thankful for family is, of course the obvious answer in any given year, and sometimes people avoid saying it for that reason. But at other times, there are extra reasons to be thankful. Award-winning poet Magdalena “Bessy” Reyna responded, “To still have the love of my partner of 39 years and to be able to share our lives as a married couple.”
Yvette Melendez
Yvette Melendez in January will be starting at the most prestigious philanthropy job in the state, Chair of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.    But was this the first thought to come into her head? No.  She says, “Although it sounds like a cliché, my family is the center of my life and what grounds me. Without them, I would be rudderless!”
Ana Radalet, Washington Correspondent for
Journalist Ana Radelat, Washington Correspondent for the CTMirror, reminds us that just doing okay is a huge reason to be thankful: “Considering the economic turmoil the nation has been through, and the fact that my mother is 92 years old, I’m just happy that everyone can be together, and that we’re all okay.”
Finally, publisher Diane Alverio says, she is  thankful this past year for the growth of our news site and news service.  Having been named one of only four national McCormick Foundation J-Lab award winners in 2013, expanding into Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been among the highlights, but especially rewarding has been how our  Latinos and non-Latinos readers and advertisers have embraced the concept of providing fair and balanced news about Latinos.  We thank you, and our incredible team of writers, editors, business staff and creative folks who give their all everyday to make this a quality, top notch news source.