Today marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. The U.S. government formally designated this month Hispanic Heritage Month to shine a light on the contributions made by American citizens.
Idahoans gathered at the Capitol, where numerous community members were honored for their contributions to the Hispanic population throughout the state of Idaho.
"This is a month that is important to us as a city because it's an opportunity to reflect on our commitment and, importantly, to reaffirm our commitment to being a city for everyone," said Lauren McLean, Mayor of Boise.
The kick-off acknowledged the Hispanic population and what they bring to Idaho. One individual acknowledged for his work in the community was Ismael Mendoza.
"When my parents first migrated here, they didn't know English or how to use a computer. But it never really seemed like a problem, and that's because they always had their own IT guy at home, me," said Ismae Mendoza, Bicultural Project Coordinator for Idaho Commission for Libraries.
That is the reality for many first-generation Americans whose parents migrated here. They have no other option but to step in and help their parents due to the language barrier. But his upbringing has allowed Ismael Mendoza to take on a similar role that not only impacts his own family but all the families throughout the state of Idaho.
"With my position, I basically work with all the libraries here in the state as well as different commissions in Idaho to try and be able to bring more implementation and resources to the Latinx community," said Ismael Mendoza.
Mendoza's upbringing has allowed him to connect quickly with the Hispanic and Latinx communities. Many libraries previously struggled to be trusted by the Hispanic community. He has noticed a shift in the Hispanic people, with more of them speaking up and asking for services they might not have prior been able to ask for.
"It makes sense coming from my own family and seeing how my own parent wouldn't go up and ask for help. They would be too embarrassed they didn't want to pass that language barrier issue, so many libraries struggle with that part and trying to get through with them," said Ismael Mendoza.
Mendoza plans to take it one step at a time as he discovers the resources needed through the state in libraries for the Hispanic community.