Denver nonprofit looks to build bridges

Organization stages first fundraiser celebrating Día de los Muertos

Clarke Reader
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 11/7/19

Día de los Muertos is one of the most popular and well-known cultural events in the Mexican calendar. Thanks to movies like Pixar’s “Coco,” it’s gained a cross-cultural appeal that has …

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Denver nonprofit looks to build bridges

Organization stages first fundraiser celebrating Día de los Muertos

Posted

Día de los Muertos is one of the most popular and well-known cultural events in the Mexican calendar. Thanks to movies like Pixar’s “Coco,” it’s gained a cross-cultural appeal that has inspired many to learn more about the holiday and culture it celebrates.

Which made it the perfect pairing for the Mexican Cultural Center’s first fundraising event, hosted at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Thursday, Oct. 24. The organization is hoping to make the fundraiser an annual event.

“As a nonprofit organization we need to raise the funds to support our year-round programming,” said Ana Valles, executive director of the cultural center. “Also, one of our goals with the event is to get the word out and educate about our culture and traditions. That’s why for MCC’s first fundraiser, we used Día de los Muertos as the example.”

The event featured extravagant altars, silent and live auctions, music, food and tequila samples, all with the aim of inspiring and educating about Día de los Muertos and the work the cultural center does throughout the year. It hosts more than 20 events and three signature programs, and the money raised will allow the center to continue to provide free or low-cost programs to more than 38,000 people.

“We do events all over the state and partner with all kinds of other cultural organizations,” explained Rachel Garcia, vice chair of the cultural center’s board. “We thought the event was a great way to build a bridge to other cultures.”

Día de los Muertos’ roots go back to ancient culture like the Aztecs and Maya, and has grown and developed over the years as Spain’s Catholicism was introduced to the population of Mexico and Latin America. It’s a day to honor lost loved ones with marigolds, offerings for the dead, sugar skulls and more.

The sold-out event was attended by people of all ages, including supporters of the cultural center, partner organizations, sponsors and those eager to learn more about Mexican culture and Día de los Muertos.

“This is a great experience for building cultural awareness and understanding its history,” said Roger Cobb, community development representative with the City of Denver’s economic development and opportunity department. “Compassion and sensitivity are so important, especially when you think about what’s happening in the world.”

That worldwide perspective makes the work the cultural center does all the more necessary, explained Valles.

“The continued growth of the Latino population in Colorado and in the United States underscores the need to build understanding and cultural awareness among Latinos and non-Latinos,” she said. “For non-Latinos, it is imperative that we promote the many contributions of Latinos in the U.S. and specifically in Colorado as the means for building understanding and appreciation for the migration of Mexicanos and other Latinos across the Americas.”

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