Amigas Latinas' founders, board members, members and allies gathered to bid the organization a fond farewell at its final event, "Siempre Latina Celebrando 20 Años," at Michelle's Ballroom July 10.
The organization announced earlier this year that it would be folding after 20 years of support, education and advocacy for Chicago-area LGBTQ Latinas.
Speakers included Evette Cardona ( Amigas Latinas' co-founder and first board president ), Alma Izquierdo ( Amigas Latinas' final board president ) and Kim Hunt ( Affinity Community Services' executive director ).
"We've made the decision to pass this on to the next generation so our challenge to them is to continue this work," said Cardona. "There's still a lot to be done but look at what we've accomplished and how far we've come as a community over the past 20 years. No matter what happens in the days to come we should celebrate who we are with pride and acceptance without boundaries or limitations fearlessly and unapologetically representing who we are as a community."
"Even though Amigas is ending it doesn't mean that our voices won't be heard because no matter where we are in the future Amigas Latinas will be in the room," said Izquierdo.
Izquierdo recognized Amigas Latinas' founding board members and leadership over the years as well as those who organized this event for their time and talent. She also encouraged everyone to stay involved in the community and recognized Affinity, ALMA ( Association for Latinos/as Motivating Action ) and the Chicago Foundation for Women leadership and members for attending the event and supporting Amigas Latinas over the years.
"In this moment, I want to honor these women for all of their hard work over the past 20 years," said Hunt. "You've truly been sisters in the struggle and we will always hold a place in our hearts for you."
Mary Torres and Lydia Vega ( two of Amigas Latinas' co-founders ) also reflected on what Amigas Latinas has meant to them over the years and their thoughts on the organization's folding.
"I'm sad and happy at the same time because we did good work in so many areas over the past 20 years but it's time for the next generation to create something for themselves," said Torres. "Evette, Mona and Lydia have become my sisters and I will always cherish that because Amigas made that possible."
"My journey with Amigas centers around family," said Vega. "My nieces and nephews grew up around Amigas and the most beautiful part of that is they know that people are different and shouldn't be discriminated against because of who they love. The family commitment we made 20 years ago to not only Amigas but to our own family helped along the way and because of that Amigas was the biggest part of my nieces and nephews lives as they were growing up. As for my fellow founding board members, we started as friends and became a family. Amigas' journey goes beyond the parties or the platicas and, as Amigas folds, it's also important to remember our commitment to the community and how we came together."
The event featured a buffet dinner and desserts provided by Yo Soy Underground Supper and music by Amigas Latinas' longtime record spinner, DJ Wanda.
Raffle prizes included posters of Amigas Latinas' past events and two tickets to Affinity's JazznJuly event July 18 at Gallery Guichard.
All monies raised during the evening's festivities will go toward Amigas Latinas' Archival Project, which is housed at the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives.
See www.facebook.com/amigas.latinas.16 for more information .