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Locals celebrate Hispanic heritage

‘Be proud of this moment and where you live’

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune Guest speaker Moises Bustillos talks about how growing up in Fairmead led to a career as a television writer during a celebration for National Hispanic Heritage Month hosted by Fairmead Community & Friends Monday evening.


FAIRMEAD — Songs by “God’s angels” and words of encouragement from a network TV show writer kicked off a National Hispanic Heritage Month potluck early this week in Fairmead, a half dozen miles southeast of Chowchilla.

The celebration by Fairmead Community and Friends is not the only one to mark the month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Latinas Unidas will host its annual Fiesta in the Park at Courthouse Memorial Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The free event will feature Ballet Folklorico, live music, prize drawings, a DJ and kids games.

Angeles de Dios, young members of St. Columba’s Church in Chowchilla, sang for the community gathering at Fairmead Elementary School’s cafeteria Monday night. About a dozen speakers followed to share about Hispanic holidays and persons in history.

“My boss (John Ridley) has an Oscar, so this for me is a dream come true,” said Moises Zamora, who is part of the writing team behind the upcoming season of “American Crime” on ABC. “And you know what? Being from Fairmead, being from Central California, played a huge part in getting me this job. I never thought in a million years that I’d be talking to Hollywood executives at ABC and Disney about my experiences here.”

Zamora said he told the executives about growing up in a diverse community, the hardships of field workers, and “about my parents and how difficult it was for them to leave Mexico and start from zero with three kids. I helped my mom clean houses. I rode the school bus every morning and you know it’s freezing to wait for it in the fog here.”

He studied international relations at the Ivy League school of Brown University as well as in London and Madrid before realizing he “wanted to tell stories for a living. I didn’t want to become a doctor or a lawyer. I wanted to be a storyteller. And that’s important too. Because a doctor can heal your body. But telling beautiful stories can heal your spirit.”

He encouraged his younger listeners to do well in school and not neglect their homework. “When you have your dream job guess what’s going to happen? They’re going to give you homework,” he said to the shock and audible protests of children present. “But hopefully it’s homework that you’ll really love.”

He also urged parents to allow their children to pursue creative jobs. “Let your kids work hard for that dream,” he said them during his bilingual speech. “Let them become writers and artists. It’s important for them to tell our stories.” Children too, he said, should “be thankful to your parents. They’re not perfect. It’s hard for them too.”

Each member of a family, he said, has “different stories and careers. My baby brother wanted to be a white horse when he was a little boy. He’s right here. I’m very proud of him. He’s not a white horse, but he trains white horses and has a beautiful talent with them. He can make them rollover and dance. He also works in finance and does very well. My older brother just graduated from medical school. He’s going to be a doctor. So no matter what you choose to do with your life, and you don’t have to decide now, it is possible to become something great. Because you’re already great.”

Zamora told his listeners to take pride in their home in the Valley. “You come from this unique place called Fairmead,” he said. “Maybe it’s not the richest … (or) most famous place. Maybe it’s hard to get by sometimes. But it’s yours and it makes you who you are. That’s okay. When I was interviewing for this dream TV job they wanted someone with a unique background. Someone with struggles and hardships — not a rich kid from Beverly Hills — and they picked me … So be proud of this moment and where you live.”

His message fit well with one of the purposes for the potluck.

“We’re just trying to influence the culture and have a nice time about it to be inspirational for the children, to give them something,” said Vickie Ortiz, secretary for Fairmead Community and Friends. “We also just want to be noticed that we gather as a community … We want a community center, and these are one of the types of things that we’d be doing in the community center.” Even so, it is no accident the event took place in a cafeteria.

“We’re all about food,” Ortiz said. “You may not like our message and everything, but I know you’re going to like our food. That’s what brings people together actually. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that. Sometimes we have fundraisers when we sell food and sometimes we just give it away like today.”

The cultural extravaganza was not a first for the nine-year-old group, which also hosted its first Black History Month program in February. “I said, well, let’s continue to start this,” said its president Barbara Nelson. “So we did it for the Hispanic community … to bring the people out and they can get some history on the background of the Hispanic people.”

Ortiz shared her sentiments. “That’s all we’re trying to do,” she said. “Inspire.”

The group will hold a Fairmead Community Cleanup today from 7 a.m. to noon with dumpster bins placed on Maple Street and Avenue 22 1/2 in Fairmead. A bingo fundraiser is slated for noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 8 at Farnesi’s Steakhouse in Chowchilla ($20 for 20 games). Their next meeting is is 6 p.m. Oct. 24 at Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, 22491 Fairmead Blvd.

For information, visit or call 665-0848.

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