Centro Hispano’s virtual 2020 Latino Awards Gala a success despite the pandemic

Hispanic Heritage Month

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Local nonprofit Centro Hispano de East Tennessee celebrated strong Latino leaders in the Knoxville community on Sept. 24.

Centro Hispano hosted its annual Latino Awards gala online this year due to the pandemic, but that didn’t prevent organizers, emcees and leaders from having fun.

The Latino Awards event is also part of the nonprofit’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15.

The winners in this year’s gala include:

  • Best Latino Restaurant: El Girasol Restaurant in the Bearden area
  • Latino Leader Award: Melvin Colon, who is a pastor at Park West Church
  • Latino Ally Award: Catholic Charities of East Tennessee’s Office of Immigrant Services
  • Healthcare Advocate Award: Liliana Burbano, the public health planner with Knox County Health Department.

The Latino Awards gala is Centro Hispano’s largest fundraising event.

Following the gala, Centro Hispano’s Assistant Director of Development Whit Whitmire released the following statement::

We are so incredibly pleased with how the community in Greater Knoxville showed up to support Centro Hispano at the 2020 Latino Awards. The Latino Awards event is a special occasion each year not only to honor the Latinas, Latinos and community allies doing outstanding work in the community, but also to provide the opportunity for cultural exchange and further solidify the bridge that Centro Hispano has worked so hard to build between the Latino community and East Tennessee at large. We eat, dance and drink together. It also represents our single largest annual fundraising opportunity— a critical lifeline of support for the vital programs and services that we provide our clients in the Latino community. 

This year, though, because of the pandemic, we were honestly at a loss. We were not sure what would happen, or if we would be able to host the Latino Awards event at all. Needless to say, it was devastating to consider. But we had no choice, and decided to move forward with producing a virtual event. We immediately were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that we received from partners. Through their sponsorship and encouragement, and in a very short period of time, we were able to coordinate and execute a meaningful virtual program that allowed us to provide much-deserved recognition to Latino leaders and allies and share the incredible work of our Centro Hispano team. 

The virtual format actually provided us with an exciting opportunity to expand our audience and engage with people in a way that our organization has not previously been able to do. With the invaluable assistance of M&M Productions and our emcees Erin Donovan and Louis Fernandez, we not only hosted the first virtual event in Centro’s 15 years, but we were able to share our story and mission with more people than ever. We are beyond grateful for the support that we have been shown.

Through Oct. 15, the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, we invite everyone to view our 2020 Latino Awards program to learn more about Centro Hispano and consider making a contribution to support our work at https://latinoawards.swell.gives/.

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