The MIRA Bus celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
Nonprofit’s new program manager speaks out about what the holiday means to the MIRA Bus team members and the communities they serve
National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for Latinos to come together to celebrate their heritage and for the broader community to honor the contributions Latinos have made to society throughout our country’s history.
The Mobile Intercultural Resource Alliance or MIRA Bus is a traveling RV that brings free health and wellness resources like COVID-19 vaccinations, check-ups, and referrals directly into underserved communities across Eagle County.
Ever since the bus first hit the road in 2018, the MIRA team has taken a more comprehensive approach to empowering people to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Bringing local Latino residents together in celebration of their heritage is a natural extension of that mission, said Mariana Doran, the MIRA bus’s new program manager.
“What an experience to be able to connect wellness while uplifting individual dignity,” Doran said in a written statement. “Pride in heritage resonates within our communities being served.”
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated across the country each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and, this year, the MIRA Bus marked the holiday by “integrating festivities into ongoing resource offerings at the bus throughout the valley,” according to the statement.
The month began with Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16, which marks the day that Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest known as Father Hidalgo, first called for Mexico’s independence from Spain back in September of 1810. The day is often confused with Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla.
Soon after, the MIRA Bus began hosting celebrations in each of the communities it serves across the valley in events referred to as “Celebra Nuestras Raíces” or “Celebrate Our Roots.”
The bus brought music, face painting and Mexican and Latin American food to each community from the Dotsero Mobile Home Park all the way to the Aspens Mobile Home Park in Avon. Staffers also invited residents to dress up in traditional clothing and participate in a contest for the most festive Hispanic attire.
“Residents embraced the opportunity to wear culturally-relevant attire and share stories of their heritage,” Doran said in the statement. “Our eclectic community is what makes it so wonderful.”
The proud winners, a grandmother and her two twin granddaughters, were awarded with a $50 gift card to Moe’s Original BBQ in Eagle, according to MIRA staff. Three other runners-up won $20 gift cards to Walmart.
The MIRA Bus also held pop-up festivities in Eagle Town Park and Eagle River Village Mobile Home Park in Edwards to honor “Hispanic culture and influence in the U.S.,” according to a statement released by the MIRA team.
Nearly one-third of Eagle County residents — and 52% of students — identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Eagle County Schools. Honoring holidays like Hispanic Heritage Month also honors those residents’ place within our community, Doran said.
“To be able to celebrate one’s family and one’s traditions further enhances a sense of self and well-being,” Doran said.
Doran has stepped up as the new programs manager as Virginia Lecea transitions into another role with the Eagle Valley Community Foundation, one of a few partners who founded the MIRA Bus.
The MIRA Bus is run entirely by local Latinas. Doran and Lecea are supported by community outreach coordinator Fatima Becerra and Liduvina Torres, who drives the bus in addition to helping with community outreach. The bus is overseen by Executive Director of Eagle Valley Community Foundation Melina Valsecia-Monreal, who grew the program into what it is today.
Together the MIRA team played an integral role in bringing COVID-19 testing and, now, vaccines into communities with more barriers to accessing these kinds of crucial public health resources. Staffers provided thousands of COVID-19 vaccines and countless tests with the help of partner agencies like Vail Health.
My Future Pathways, a fellow nonprofit that provides mentorship and educational assistance to local low-income youth, also celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by opening a new youth center in Gypsum.
My Future Pathways primarily serves local Latino men, so staffers decided to mark the new youth center’s grand opening with a “Celebración de la Hispanidad” on Oct. 9. The event featured free food, games, and tours of the new facility.
My Future Pathways is run by Executive Director Bratzo Horruitiner and supported by Coordinator David Garcia. Together with the program’s youth mentors — most of whom are also Latino, Horruitiner and Garcia have paved a new pathways for local youth in need of motivational and educational support.
Email Kelli Duncan at email@example.com