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Benton County celebrates unity and diversity in 2023 Hispanic Heritage Month with proclamation and gathering

Latino staff gather around a table and celebrate Hispanic Heritage month on Oct. 3, 2023 in a Benton County break room.

October 6, 2023

Benton County recognized the importance of unity and diversity during 2023 Hispanic Heritage Month with a meaningful gathering and proclamation reading to honor Benton County employees and Latinx/Hispanic heritage on Oct. 3, at the Kalapuya Building in Corvallis. Benton County staff and local leaders from Casa Latinos Unidos came together to commemorate Hispanic America Heritage Month, September 15-October 15.

Rocío Muñoz, Interim Healthy Communities Division Manager for the Benton County Health Department, opened the ceremony with a heartfelt message, emphasizing the significance of recognizing and embracing the Hispanic community within Benton County.

“We are here today because we are proclaiming Hispanic Heritage Month in Benton County, and we wanted to make sure that our employees knew that we’re seeing them, that they’re part of this community,” Muñoz expressed.

Darling Hernández, a bilingual medical assistant with the Lincoln Health Clinic, echoed these sentiments. Hernandez highlighted the importance of acknowledging the Latino community’s contributions and instilling the same values in future generations. Ms. Hernandez added that it’s important to be recognized as a Latinx/Hispanic American community, and to show future generations how important it is to be a part of this community as well.

Cynthia De La Torre from the Benton County Health Department emphasized the significance of proclamations like these in recognizing and celebrating the community’s invaluable contributions.

“I think proclamations are important, because they recognize our community in a way we don’t get to see every day, It’s that recognition, that acknowledgment of our contributions, and our community,” De La Torre said. ” I think we’re still learning about our history, just really being able to be more proud of that. De La Torre went on to say that learning more is what will make us a more diverse nation, a more inclusive place.

Muñoz reiterated the commitment of Benton County to serving its diverse communities and the importance of the partnership with Casa Latinos Unidos, a local nonprofit dedicated to serving the Latino community that strengthens the Latinx communities in Linn and Benton Counties through programs that support people in meeting basic needs, building resilience and capacity through education and leadership development, and celebrating cultures.

“We as a county government, are committed to serving our communities in different ways, in the ways we can. But we know that we can’t do this work alone. It is so important that we don’t do our work in silos, and so we’re super excited that we have Casa Latinos Unidos present here with us,” Muñoz said.

The proclamation was read in Spanish by Jessica Rodriguez from Casa Latinos Unidos, and in English by Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson who also gave comments in both Spanish and English at the gathering and acknowledged the historic significance of his role with Benton County.

“I am the first and only Latino District Attorney in the history of the state of Oregon, and that was made possible in Benton County,” Haroldson proudly proclaimed.

He praised the supportive leadership within the county, acknowledging the contributions of key figures like retired Benton County Commissioner Annabelle Jaramillo and current Commissioner Xan Augerot, who had paved the way for greater inclusivity.

“The history of Hispanic and Latinx people in the U.S. predates the founding of our nation with roots in the land as indigenous people who have shaped the fabric of this country. With a national theme, “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America,” Benton County’s observance celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions made by Hispanic Americans who trace their roots to Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean,” Haroldson articulated during the proclamation reading.

Benton County Commissioner Xan Augerot, whose family originally hails from New Mexico, added a personal touch to the ceremony, emphasizing the importance of a representative workforce and her own cultural roots.

“It’s important that our workforce is representative so that we can continue to improve our services and continue to do better at what we do. Hispanic American Heritage Month is important to me personally because I also have roots in the culture,” Augerot shared.

In Benton County, this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation reading wasn’t just an event; it was a heartfelt celebration of unity, recognition, and the rich tapestry of Hispanic America heritage that enriches the community. View pictures of the event or watch the video.

Benton County is an Equal Opportunity-Affirmative Action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission or access to our programs, services, activities, hiring and employment practices. This document is available in alternative formats and languages upon request. Please contact Cory Grogan at 541-745-4468 or

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