-By John Lynds
City Councilor Sal LaMattina announced that Camilo Hernandez will be the newest addition to his staff.
Hernandez, an East Boston resident, will be working on constituent services throughout the district.
A native of Colombia, Hernandez has been active in the community, participating and organizing neighborhood programs at Piers Park Sailing Center, Zumix, Mario Umana Middle School Academy, as well as sharing his passion for tennis by teaching the game to children via the Tenacity program.
Hernandez has worked closely with Latin Americans here and various immigrant communities.
Dubbed Casa de la Cultura (Home of Culture), founders Hernandez and Gladys Oliveiras, with the help of the local Colombian community, turned the small building on the corner of Maverick and Frankfort Streets into a welcoming place of culture, art, music and understanding.
“We want to be the bridge between the Latino community here in East Boston and the rest of the neighborhood and city,” said Hernandez after the center opened. “We envision a place of cultural activities, art, music but also a place to promote Latino and non-Latino culture with Spanish classes, English classes and other events to unify the different cultures living in the neighborhood.”
Outside the building flies the flags of all the countries represented in Eastie from the U.S. to South and Central America to Italy.
“The flags symbolize our mission to be a center where we all learn from one another,” explained Hernandez. “We want to have elected officials, business owners, artists and musicians to all contribute their talents and knowledge here at the center. The center will give people the chance to promote their business, their craft or provide people with a forum to share information.”
The center has become a place new comers to Eastie can get their bearings and become better integrated into U.S. society and culture.
No one knows this better than Hernandez who came to the U.S. as a tennis pro at the age of 20. Upon arriving in the U.S. Hernandez found it important to learn English in order to have abetter understanding of his new environment.
“It’s scary enough being in a new place but it’s more scary if you don’t speak the language,” said Hernandez.
So here at the new cultural center, Hernandez said he and the board of director is able to foster an environment where residents can hold on to their cultural values while becoming a new and proud member of a new culture.
And now in his new capacity as an aid for LaMattina, he said he hopes to continue promoting the diversity of Eastie and District 1.
Hernandez is trilingual and is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian.
He has a degree in business administration from Universidad de la Salle, Bogota, a B.S. in management from Cambridge College, and a Business English Certificate from Harvard Extension School.
Hernandez can be reached at Councilor LaMattina’s office by phone at 617-635-3200 or via email at [email protected].