Hispanic Heritage Month Honorees

White Plains, NY — On Monday, the Westchester County Board of Legislators commemorated their annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration with a virtual ceremony lauding the efforts of two Latina powerhouses: Martha Mercedes of Yonkers and Carola Otero Bracco of Mount Kisco.

Board Chair Catherine Borgia (D – Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton, Ossining, Peekskill) welcomed everyone to the Board’s annual observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, which officially begins on Thursday, September 15 and runs until October 15th.

She explained, “September 15th marks the date when five Latin American countries — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua —all earned their independence from Spain, followed by Mexico on September 16th and Chile on September 18th. The month-long celebration continues with many types of festivities and celebrations, although the majority of Latin American countries actually commemorate their independence on other dates throughout the year.”

“This year’s theme, ‘Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation,’ encourages us to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger nation.”

Majority Whip Jose Alvarado (D – Yonkers) presented the first proclamation saying, “I am so pleased to recognize Martha Mercedes as an inspiration for the Hispanic community and to present her with this proclamation … Even with her busy career in the hotel industry, Martha still finds time to volunteer and work with the Park Hill community that she so loves. She has contributed and distributed toys and meals for needy families during the holidays, and in the midst of the pandemic, she volunteered giving out COVID tests at St. Bartholomew Church and donated 100 lunches cooked by her, and her husband, Martin, to Saint John’s Hospital. Martha has served for 15 years on the Park Hill Residents Association as Treasurer. Between her professional accomplishments and her generous spirit, she is truly a mentor for the community.”

Ms. Mercedes thanked Legislator Alvarado for the honor saying, “When deciding to move to Westchester 20 years ago, I chose the Park Hill area of Yonkers. Logistically, it was a great choice for my commute to work, but the diversity of the different cultures is what most attracted me to the community …Service to the Hispanic and other minority communities has always been something have I believed in”.

“As a Latina who came from humble beginnings and who worked diligently in the corporate world -- where there were little opportunities for Latinos and fewer for women -- I have tried to give back. Throughout my career of over 50 years as a Director of Finance in the hospitality industry, I have had the honor of mentoring many into successful careers. As a mother, I have been able to lead by example and witness my daughters’ become Latinas who also give to our community and help others grow.”

The Board declared September 15, 2022 “Martha Mercedes Day” in Westchester County.

You may also go to Vimeo to watch the full video.

Legislator Erika Pierce (D - Bedford, Lewisboro, Mt. Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers) presented the proclamation to first generation Bolivian-American, Carola Otero Bracco. She said, “While I am always proud to be from District 2, tonight I am particularly proud because Mount Kisco and District 2 are home to Carola Otero Bracco, one of this year’s remarkable Hispanic Heritage honorees. Tonight, I am so pleased to share Carola’s accomplishments, her passion for empowering immigrant families, her advocacy work on behalf of the educational and economic development of immigrants, and her many contributions to the people of Westchester County.”

Ms. Bracco graciously accepted the honor saying, “I have worked with many of you over several years and you have championed important changes at the County level and advocated for critical changes at the State level. Even as external forces challenge the immigrant community, our shared commitment to integration and inclusion is multi-faceted and is more relevant than ever.”

“People who have made the courageous and difficult decision to leave their home countries and families, whether because of violence, persecution, economic distress or other reasons, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect … Our partnership with the elected officials in this County is an important example of how community-based organizations and elected officials can work together to ensure that all community members have the opportunity to succeed, regardless of where they were born.”

The Board declared September 24, 2022 “Carola Otero Bracco Day” in Westchester County.

You may also go to Vimeo to watch the full video.

Read the program for Monday night’s event at: https://www.westchesterlegislators.com/images/Newsroom/2022/091222_Hispanic_Heritage_PROGRAM.pdf