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Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

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Hispanic Heritage Month

By Jill Vito
Assistant Civil Division Manager
Ocean Vicinage and
Sharon Kinney
EEO/AA Officer
Passaic Vicinage

Ocean and Passaic vicinages recently held events to celebrate the diversity of their staffs.
Ocean Vicinage celebrated its second annual Heritage Festival on Sept. 30.

The festival, which was sponsored by the vicinage EEO/AA Advisory Committee, was held in the Mancini Hall at the Ocean County Library’s Toms River branch. 
The festival featured food, art, fashion, music and interpretative dance. The room was decorated with arts and crafts displays from many countries.

Volunteers from the audience were selected to participate in a Native American drum circle.  Staff was then treated to Thai and Greek dance numbers and a performance of two traditional Chinese songs. 

The two-part grand finale was a display of cultural attire. The first portion was the “Parade of Nations” fashion show, which consisted of several brave and enthusiastic colleagues who modeled attire from several nations.

The second part was an exploration of the cultural significance of the shawl entitled “Evolution of the Shawl.” The presentation as narrated by Win Win Kyi, a professor at Bergen Community College.

Ocean Vicinage Picture
Ocean Vicinage staff model ethnic clothing during its Heritage
Festival on Sept, 30. They are (from left) Brendon Toner; Laurie Hopkinson;
Geri Lewis; Gina Dean; Ann Marie Fleury; Melissa Drazin; Angela Putrino-Rogers;
Sharon Pearson; Krystyna Carlino; Linda Schwartz; Amanda O'Mara; Fred Squirini
and Brenda Haynes. The clothing was on loan from Win Win Kyi,
a professor at Bergen Community College

Supreme Court Associate Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto was among the panelists who discussed strides made by Hispanics during Passaic Vicinage’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Oct. 2. Nearly 150 judges, managers, staff and guests gathered in the freeholder meeting room in the Passaic County Administration Building for the event.

Assignment Judge Donald J. Volkert Jr. developed the idea for the panel discussion, which was moderated by Judge Miguel de la Carrera, chair of the vicinage Minority Concerns Committee. Panelists answered questions about their experiences with racism, stereotyping and discrimination during their careers.

They also spoke about their experiences growing up and the influences of ancestry and culture on their outlook. Many on the panel commented on the strides made by Hispanics in recent years.

In addition to Rivera-Soto, the other panelists were Judge Julio Fuentes of the Third United States Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge Amilkar Velez-Lopez of Newark Municipal Court; Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes and Yvette Alvarez, past president of the New Jersey Hispanic Bar Association.

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