2014 Mohawk Valley Region
Dianelit V. O.
Dianelit was instrumental in starting a community garden in a predominantly Latino neighborhood. The organizers of the garden are not and do not speak Spanish. Dianelit went door to door acting as ambassador and translator. She got the support of the neighborhood for the garden. She also helped run the summer garden program. Dianelit attended a Common Council meeting and thanked the council members for supporting the Arts Center and the Garden. She is an amazing young lady and a natural leader.
She is outspoken on many issues. She is an advocate for doing the right thing no matter what anyone else around you does. She knows the names, ages, clothing and shoe sizes of many of her younger neighbors and is always watching for bargains or needed items. She is hard working, honest and dependable and a good role model for the younger children in the neighborhood. She has been able to empower the Latino Community by making it possible for us to work with the children in the neighborhood. She was the translator and cheerleader, because of her involvement parents in the neighborhood felt comfortable allowing their children to participate.
In her own words: "My name is Dianelit Vasquez Ortiz. I am 16 years old. I was born in Manati Peurto Rico. My family moved to the United States mainland in 2006. I live with my mother, twin sister and younger brother. I am currently a High School student where I am in the 10the grade. I have a strong personality and like to help people so I hope to have a career someday which allows me to help people and my Community."
What is your Hispanic heritage?
I am a Latina, born to Puerto Rican parents in Puerto Rico.
How has your personal background helped shape the person you are today and the work you are doing?
I decided to help start the Garden program at the Art Center because I thought it would give the children in my neighborhood something to do and keep them out of trouble. The women that were starting the program did not speak Spanish and this is mostly a Puerto Rican neighborhood. They worried that since they were too white and only English speaking the neighborhood might not welcome them. I helped by going door to door in the neighborhood and making introductions. I helped create and distribute bi-lingual fliers if there were special events. I was then hired for the summer to water and look after the garden when there was no program and to help teach the younger kids and translate for parents who did not speak English and teachers who did not speak Spanish. There is a lot of need for this program in my neighborhood. We started a 4h Club so that we could get help from Cornell University with our garden and so that we can apply to organizations for money to make the Garden better. I am President of the 4H Club. My adult partners at the Creative Connections say that they could not have had this program if it were not for me.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is “El que se pico es por que haji comio”