The 2019 iLatina Awards luncheon was an exceptional experience that brought various cultural groups together to celebrate the many accomplishments of Latina women in our community.

June 5 was a day to be remembered by all.

Once the doors of DeBary Golf & Country Club opened at 11 a.m., there was an overwhelming feeling of warmth and connectivity, as the guests networked and reunited with one another.

Inez Nazario-Vega, president of the Volusia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the audience with excitement by addressing the nominees and everyone present.

This year, the program consisted of the following awards: Entrepreneur of the Year, Professional of the Year and Community Leader of the Year.

The nominees share in common an unwavering drive toward success, and each is a true representation of hard work and determination.

Throughout the program, Mistress of Ceremonies Erika Benfield, the vice mayor of DeBary, shared many examples of Latina influence in our nation. Keynote speaker Nancy Alvarez, a news anchor for WFTV Channel 9, continued the theme by providing key examples of reporting news that has left lasting impressions on the minds of viewers.

“Maybe we are too much,” she said, “but I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.”

Alvarez talked about the many obstacles placed in front of her and how she embraced the challenges and progressed in her career in the media world.

She was one of the first reporters on the ground in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, and she delivered the story with compassion for the people affected.

Alvarez shared a message of hope and placed it in three categories: who I was, who I am, and where I’m going.

Chuckles could be heard in the audience as she shared what some may consider as being “too much,” while others identify with not having it any other way, viewing “too much” as self-expression.

“I care too much,” Alvarez said, as she spoke of the many stories of real people and real circumstances.

The program did not end without appreciation and an award presented to Nazario-Vega for her continuous push toward greatness and growth for the organization.

The iLatina Awards luncheon is only one of many programs sponsored by the Volusia Hispanic Chamber. If you are interested in learning more, visit www.volusiachamber.org.

— Cameron, a longtime educator, lives in Orange City. Send email to cameronchronicleslive@gmail.com.