Margarita Ramirez was nominated as Citizen of the Month for October 2022 by Council Member Billy Martin.
Council Member Martin stated that he was honored to recognize Ms. Ramirez as Citizen of the Month. He stated that Ms. Ramirez was the Executive Director of Centro Unido Latino Americano (CULA)
Mr. Martin said that CULA helped advocate for primarily members of the LatinX community by helping with English as Second Language Classes, employment, health concerns and with a food pantry every other Thursday.
Mr. Martin stated that since Ms. Ramirez became the Executive Director of CULA, the organization had grown and helped people throughout the city and county. He stated that Ms. Ramirez was a role model for those in her community and an astounding person.
Mr. Martin then shared that Ms. Ramirez had lived in McDowell County since she was 9 years old. He stated that Ms. Ramirez’s mother had moved Margarita and her 4 other siblings to McDowell County, even though she could not speak English, so that they could have a better life.
Mr. Martin said Ms. Ramirez was a graduate of McDowell High School and that she had experience in a variety of professions, including as an interpreter through MAHEC at hospitals in Morganton and Asheville.
Mr. Martin shared that Ms. Ramirez had two children. He stated that Ms. Ramirez had shared that her role model growing up was her mother Bertha.
Mr. Martin stated that this fact, along with the fact that Ms. Ramirez had grown CULA from an organization with a budget of $88,000 to an organization with a budget of more than $700,000 showed Mr. Martin that Ms. Ramirez could do anything she put her mind to.
He stated that since Ms. Ramirez had become Executive Director of CULA, the number of clients they served had increased from 300 to 2500 clients a month.
Mr. Martin said he was amazed at how CULA had grown its capacity to help others by developing a team of skilled people to assist those in the community. He stated that Ms. Ramirez’s leadership would help continue to grow CULA and make McDowell County and the City of Marion a better place for everyone.
Mayor Steve Little then recognized Ms. Ramirez. He stated that the work she had done in the community was profound. He stated that Marion and McDowell County was fortunate to be the home of an organization that served so many.
Mayor Little then shared that he was wearing the t-shirt that CULA had given him during their celebration of the mural they had commissioned on the side of the Mica Town Brewing building. He stated that this was the first time he had worn a t-shirt under his dress jacket for a meeting, because the t-shirt was a great representation of all that CULA had done to make McDowell a better place.
Mayor Little stated that he had enjoyed the celebration in honor of the mural. He stated that it was really a community event.
Mayor Little then presented Ms. Ramirez with her Citizen of the Month Certificate. He then opened the floor for Council Members and Members of the public to say what they would like to Ms. Ramirez.
Council Member Ramsey stated that he was proud of Ms. Ramirez. He stated that he had seen the impact of her work in some of the classes that he had taken at McDowell Technical Community College, where CULA had helped tutor students. Mr. Ramsey said that all of those students now had jobs in the construction trade because of CULA’s help.
Mayor Pro Tem Ayers stated that Council Member Martin had chosen a great person to honor. He stated that Ms. Ramirez had done so much to help everyone in her community.
Mayor Pro Tem Ayers stated that he was glad City Council Members had the chance to recognize those that did so much for the City and County.
City Manager Bob Boyette stated that Ms. Ramirez had so much to be proud of. He stated that CULA’s work served so many different people and that they continued to expand the services they offered.
Members of the audience then shared their love for Ms. Ramirez.
Fire Chief Ray McDaniel thanked CULA for the mural they had installed on Mica Town. He said that the mural had made the fire department, located across from the mural, a brighter place.
Ms. Ramirez stated that she was proud to be the Executive Director of CULA. She stated that growing up she had never felt entirely at home, but that the mural celebration had made Marion feel like her home because of the variety of elected officials and citizens present.
Ms. Ramirez thanked Council Members and the Mayor for their kind words and ongoing support. She said she hoped to continue to make them proud.