PRCC Pride Parade Contingent Celebrates Latin America, Same Sex Marriage Decision

PRCC Pride Parade Contingent Celebrates Latin America, Same Sex Marriage Decision

By Pedro Mercado, VidaSIDA

On Sunday, June 28th, The Puerto Rican Cultural Center participated in the 46th annual Chicago Pride Parade. An estimated, 1 million people attended for Sunday’s celebrations, and The PRCC was one of the Latin@ frontrunners of the parade. The city’s celebrations come as the Supreme Court made its landmark same sex marriage decision earlier in the week, striking down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The PRCC’s float featured a Latin American themed contingent that showcased flags and cultural attire from different Latin American countries. Over 100 people joined the PRCC to march.

Coronation of Paseo Boricua Cacica Queen 2015

Coronation of Paseo Boricua Cacica Queen 2015

By Ricardo Jiménez, Vida/SIDA

On Friday, June 19, 2015, The Puerto Rican Cultural Center and the Trans Latin@ Coalition of Chicago sponsored the Annual Coronation of the Paseo Boricua Cacica Queen.  In a pack audience with hundreds of attendance and only standing room available, this year’s Paseo Boricua Cacica Queen 2015 is from Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, and her name is Yeveah Altieri. Since a very early age, the newly crowned Queen of 2015, Altieri was devoted to health sciences and mathematics and its benefits to society. Currently,  Altieri holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences, a Master’s Degree in Public Health Administration and is pursuing a Doctorate’s Degree in Epidemiology at Ponce School of Medicine. In addition, Altieri has created doll pageants and sold them where all the funds collected are used for domestic violence victims recovery and educate communities to understand the plight of how domestic violence affect the nation of Puerto Rico. Altieri will be one brilliant and beautiful ambassador to the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and Trans Latin@ Coalition of Chicago

Lastly, Janet Namer affectingly know, as “Madrina” was crown Honorary Queen of Paseo Boricua 2015.  Madrina has been a vocal advocate of Trans Latin@ in Chicago.

37th Puerto Rican Peoples Parade: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Steel Flags, the Baseball Leagues and Cocineros Unidos de Humboldt Park

37th Puerto Rican Peoples Parade: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Steel Flags, the Baseball Leagues and Cocineros Unidos de Humboldt Park

By Erika Abad, Puerto Rican Cultural Center

Saturday’s heat and mugginess did not keep Puerto Ricans from standing in line to show their support. As early as 11:30 AM, despite the parade starting at 2 PM, residents and other Puerto Ricans were setting out their lawn chairs and coolers to get front row seating for the parade. By the time the parade would start at 2:10, from storefront to gate, Puerto Ricans, Latinos and community residents stood watching floats from community organizations like the Juan Antonio Corretjer Puerto Rican Cultural Center, AfriCaribe and ASPIRA to political contingents like 1st ward alderman, Joe Moreno, 26th ward Alderman, Roberto Maldonado, and the National Boricua Human Rights Network- Chicago chapter. Toddlers walked hand in hand with their parents or from their strollers perched on floats, watched the crowd cheer them on. When a Pedro Albizu Campos High School alum stood on a float in the middle of California and Division Street’s intersection to sing “Despierta Boricua,” the crowd either stood silent or joined in, many with fists raised in the air.

The Parade this year was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the birth of the amazing Paseo Boric Flags, as well as the big and minor Baseball Leagues of Humboldt Park and Cocineros Unidos (United Cooks) of Humboldt Park.

Puerto Ricans in Humboldt Park continue to rally to demonstrate the significance of Humboldt Park to their sense of culture, history and politics. Congested gatherings like the 37th People’s Parade on Division show us that no matter where we go, where or how we live, Humboldt Park and Paseo Boricua are still Boricuas’ pedacito de patria away from la isla.

1995 was the first time I participated in Chicago’s downtown Puerto Rican Parade, pushing my cousin’s youngest daughter in a stroller. Also, the year Chicago placed two Puerto Rican flags of steel in the ground of the mile-strip between Western and California known now as Paseo Boricua.

Puerto Rican pride was not the only sentiment waving through the air as the sight of rainbow flags demonstrate. Whether on LGBT-centered initiatives’ floats like El Rescate and Vida SIDA or in the crowd, queer, trans, and LGBT Puerto Ricans were waving both flags during the parade. Youth spearheaded that visibility, paving the way for the growth of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community to serve the ever-increasing diversity of their community.

View the collaborative Flickr set here.

The Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) Chicago Selects PRCC-Vida/SIDA Once Again as an Agency to Receive an Excellence in Care Award for the Fourth Year in a Row!

The Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) Chicago Selects PRCC-Vida/SIDA Once Again as an Agency to Receive an Excellence in Care Award for the Fourth Year in a Row!

By Jorge Cestou

 

DIFFA/Chicago (The Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) is a not-for-profit fundraising and grant making foundation that distributes funds to Chicago area HIV/AIDS service agencies that provide direct service, preventative education and outreach to people who are HIV positive, living with AIDS, or at risk for infection.

In 2014, DIFFA/Chicago awarded grants to 26 different agencies in the Chicago Metro Area. Their funding strategies changed in 2015. Some of these strategies included the idea of providing more sizable grants to agencies that are making a greater impact and PRCC-Vida/SIDA out of only 10 agencies, was selected as an awardee this year.

Volunteers from the fashion industry, interior design, furnishings and architecture founded DIFFA/Chicago. Supporters of DIFFA now come from every field associated with fine design.  “In Chicago, the Excellence in Care Awards funding focuses on those agencies that demonstrate extraordinary effectiveness in achieving their chosen missions in the HIV/AIDS arena.”[1]

The awards ceremony will take place March 25th, 2015. PRCC-Vida/SIDA staff will attend to receive the award.  Jorge Cestou, Director of Programs and Services, congratulates all Vida/SIDA program staff for the excellent work they have done through the years. This award could not have been received without all of the contributions of this great group of committed individuals fighting to reduce HIV infections in our communities and helping those dealing with the disease, ease the pain.

World AIDS Day 2014: A Celebration of Life at Vida/SIDA

World AIDS Day 2014: A Celebration of Life at Vida/SIDA

By Jorge Cestou

Yesterday, December 1st, 2014, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center -Vida/SIDA celebrated World AIDS Day.

The celebration included two events, a Candle Light Vigil to celebrate the lives of individuals living with HIV and honoring the lives of many that have died of AIDS. During this vigil, participants were part of an invocation and celebration of life. Jose Lopez, Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, welcomed everyone and provided a historical perspective to the event’s space, La Casita de Don Pedro, and of Vida/SIDA. “Vida/SIDA was established in 1988 to deal with HIV stigma and to help those dealing with the disease cope and ease the pain to live healthier, longer lives,” said Lopez

The attendees participated in creating a Community Life Collage to honor people living with HIV and those who died of AIDS. Every participant was also asked to make a commitment and to celebrate life by making a public statement through the creation of symbolic signs that read I COMMIT TO _____ or I CELEBRATE _____. “Living with HIV is no longer a death sentence. People live normal lives. The only thing they have to do is adjustments to their everyday lives like anyone dealing with a chronic disease. Wave your signs and make the your public commitment to end HIV and celebrate Life,” said Jorge Cestou, Director of Programs and Services at Vida/SIDA.

En route to the second event of the night, our Anniversary Fundraising Dinner, the participants walked together in procession to create awareness of HIV in our communities.

The second event of the World AIDS Day Life Celebration was Vida/SIDA’s 26th Anniversary Fundraising Dinner. Sponsors of the event included Chicago Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Erie Family Health Center, and Hispanic Housing Development Corp. Supporters were treated to a delicious Puerto Rican meal and a program that included a welcome from Juan Calderon, PRCC COO and Vida/SIDA Director, the 2013 Annual Report presentation by Sandra Candelaria, Director of Women Programs, program remarks by Jorge Cestou, Director of Programs and Services, life testimonies from three HIV positive individuals and closing remarks by
José E. López, PRCC Executive Director. The life testimonies were extremely powerful and to celebrate these individuals’ lives, they were honored with the Vida/SIDA’s Certificate of Resilience. The event was MC’d by Roberto Sanabria, Ed.D., a Vida/SIDA founder and PRCC board member.