Puerto Rican Mayor for a Day
In 1987, La Casa Bienvenida started the proud tradition of recognizing a Puerto Rican resident of Waterbury chosen to celebrate their contribution to our beloved City. Today, the long standing tradition of selecting the Waterbury Puerto Rican Mayor for a Day, rests on the hands of the Members of the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury, Inc.
To read the history and view the entire list of Puerto Rican Mayors for a Day...press the flag
Maritza Acosta-Gay, 2014 Puerto Rican Mayor for a Day...
Latest 'Mayor for a Day' follows in dad's footsteps
BY DESTINY LOPEZ REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
WATERBURY — Maritza Acosta-Gay can remember May 5, 1987, perfectly.
It was the day her father, Adalberto "Tutin" Acosta, was named Waterbury's first Hispanic Mayor for a Day.
"I remember they gave him this key and all I could think was my dad has the key to the city, my dad is the mayor for a day," said Acosta-Gay.
Twenty-seven years later, Acosta-Gay will follow her father's footsteps when she is honored as Waterbury's 2014 Puerto Rican Mayor for the Day on Friday at City Hall's annual Puerto Rican flag-raising ceremony. "I'm so grateful I'm going to be able to share this day with him," she said of receiving the honor with her father watching.
Acosta-Gay was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Waterbury when she was 5 years old. From a young age, her parents instilled the sense of community in her. "They always taught us to give back," she said.
After receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees from Southern Connecticut State University, and a Master of Social Work from University of Connecticut, Acosta-Gay said, she had a strong desire to go back to the city she called home for most of her life.
Acosta-Gay began working as a social worker for the state Department of Children and Families in Waterbury. After receiving a promotion that transfered her career to New Britain, she joined Waterbury's Hispanic Coalition to remain involved with the city's Latino community.
She is now back in Waterbury as DCF's program manager and also teaches at Central Connecticut State University.
As the new president and former vice president of the coalition, Acosta-Gay has worked to address the needs of Waterbury's Hispanic community by helping residents apply for citizenship, complete income tax forms, participate in case management and gain computer skills through tutoring programs.
La Casa Bienvenida, a senior center that serves low-income Hispanic elders of the community, merged with the coalition in 2012. Acosta-Gay is most excited to see the seniors who are being transported to the flag-raising ceremony. "Seeing them there is going to make my day," she said.
"We as Latinos and we as Puerto Ricans, it's a big day for us. We get to see one individual that represents us," said Victor Lopez, executive director of the Hispanic Coalition. "We want someone who has stayed in our community; somebody who the community itself is proud of and that's when we came up with Maritza."
Acosta-Gay will be honored at 10 a.m. at City Hall. A luncheon of traditional Puerto Rican food and dance will be held after the flag raising. Pledges will be collected to help purchase another van for the seniors of La Casa Bienvenida.
Isaias T. Diaz, 2013 Puerto Rican Mayor for a Day...
Mayor for the day seen as role model
Diaz mentors young Latinos
BY MIKE PATRICK REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
WATERBURY — When Isaias T. Diaz raises the Puerto Rican flag at City Hall this morning, it will be after more than a decade of hard work.
Diaz, 36, a local attorney, was chosen as this year's Puerto Rican Mayor for the Day by the Hispanic Coalition. The group praised him in a prepared statement for being chairman of the state Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, as well as a youth minister who "mentored countless Latino youths in the areas of education and community involvement." But back in the day, Diaz may have used some mentoring himself.
"I didn't even graduate from Wilby High School on time, I had so many absences," he said, adding that he spent his late teens and early 20s partying. "That took me back a couple years."
Eventually, he decided he had to break away from the party scene and from those friends keeping him there. He became an A-student at Post University and later was accepted into the Quinnipiac University School of Law.
"It was like culture shock for me, because there were no minorities. It made me have to work harder than I ever had to work in my life," he said. "I associated with people who had ambition, people who were positive or believers, so I didn't have to worry about all the other nonsense."
And were he actually mayor, he said, he would put systems in place that would help guide other young Latinos to success.
Since he credits church with saving him, he said he would bring more Bible-based curriculum to the schools.
"People wonder why the kids have no motivation, no respect for authority, no deference to each other. The problem is, they're not being given the moral rubric to work from," he said.
Diaz said he knows this idea is "old school," but said his outspoken Republican ideals have brought him success and earned him respect from even the most left-wing Democratic members of the state commission he has chaired on a volunteer basis for the past four years.
"I could focus on being the greatest lawyer in the world and make as much money as I can, but I think any Latino who's found a way out of it should use their talents to better the community," he said.
Diaz "represents the future of the Latinos," said Victor Lopez Jr., president of the Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury.
"He's an outstanding man. He's humble. He conducts himself with pride. His inner beliefs shape his actions. He makes choices that are determined for the betterment of others," Lopez said. "He is a role model the way that he has been able to also influence other young kids."
Miriam Echevarria, 2012 Puerto Rican Mayor for a Day...
Proud Grandma is 2012 Puerto Rican Mayor
Miriam Echevarria was born on June 21, 1956 at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, CT. She is one of eight children born to Joaquin and Hilda Batista, natives of Puerto Rico. Miriam was raised in Waterbury’s South End area. She attended Maloney Grammar School, Croft, and graduated from Kennedy High School. At an early age Miriam’s parents instilled in her the importance of family, community service, and being proud of her Puerto Rican Culture.
Miriam is the proud mother of six children and eleven grandchildren. She has four sons named: Carlos Jr., David, Edward and Javier Rivera. Her two daughters are Nancy and Yvelisse Echevarria. The ages of her grandchildren range from 24 to 2 years old. They are: Kaylisse Elamarie Caniano, Carlos III, Nico Enrique, Anthony James, Brianna Lynn, Alana Marie, Lilliana Love, Edward Jr., David Jr., Isaias Xavier, and LuzMaria Annette Rivera.
At home, she is known as “Wela” and is famous for her cooking and baking. Her grandchildren love her macaroni and cheese, baked ham, pasteles, pernil, cookies, and cakes. She takes pride in making each of her grandchildren feel special by personally baking their Diego, Dora, Thomas, Elmo, and Princess Birthday cakes.