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Why host a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

By Bonnie Duncan

CEO, United Way of Hunterdon County

United Way of Hunterdon County has been successfully hosting a health fair each April for the last 6 years as part of our focus on Latino health disparities.  Our TIRO program (Technical Interventions for the Reduction of Obesity) is funded in part by the Department of Health, Office of Minority and Multicultural Health.  This month, the theme for celebrating Minority and Multicultural Health is to be “Active and Healthy”.  Each year our health fair has grown and its growth has shown a move towards not just sharing community health resources but making it family oriented with more activities for both children and adults.  Closing the street on Fulper Road gives it an air of a street fair. Daily I see the disparities in health that a number of families live with here in Hunterdon County.  And it is what fuels my work and desire to make a difference. Sometimes that work includes Zumba and yoga or swimming and walking (look for the lady in red in the photo below)!

In addition to the many agencies that support this event, this year we partnered with the Flemington Community Partnership to help connect the social service network and the Main Street business community.  Together, we planned efforts to go beyond hosting the fair and created a health challenge for this week.  So we created a Vamos Flemington Facebook page and a health tracker.  Our focus this week is to exercise and eat healthy.  Our Main Street businesses are stepping up and joining the fun.  I, along with so many others have a desire to make and keep Hunterdon a healthy place to live, work and play.

Some of you have heard me self-identify as a reverse Latina.  I was born here in New Jersey but left at the age of 2 and grew up in various North, Central and South American countries until I returned to New Jersey after college.  Corporations, like the one my dad worked for, labeled us ex-pats.  Not sure what that really meant.  As I grew up I had an unexpected advantage of being exposed to various Latino cultures along the way.  In Mexico, I climbed the Aztec ruins, I loved going to the Folkloric Ballet, and floating in the water on the flower barges.  As a girl scout I had an opportunity to open the Miraflores locks at the Panama Canal.  My upbringing gave me a different perspective on diversity and inclusion as family members were born in various countries.  So bringing that perspective to my job was important. 

We wanted to have a way to celebrate the completion of our week-long of healthy challenge and so the idea of doing so at a Cinco de Mayo celebration was born.  In this way we could celebrate not just our activities of the past week, but showcase some Mexican culture at the same time. 

Expanding our knowledge and embracing other cultures just makes us richer.  So our Cinco de Mayo (which is actually being held on quarto de Mayo) is a fundraiser to support the United Way of Hunterdon County and will celebrate Mexican culture by bring their music and artisans to Turntable Junction to celebrate in more ways than one.  So move more, eat healthy and join the ¡Vamos Flemington! health challenge (Vamosflemington.com). And let’s celebrate our accomplishments together on Saturday, May 4 from 3pm to 7pm at Turntable Junction in Flemington.