“America is an improbable idea, a mongrel nation built of ever-changing disparate parts, it is held together by a notion, the notion that all men are created equal...” Anna Quindlen writes in her famous essay “A Quilt of a Country.” She continues, “Out of many, one. That is the ideal.” The essayist goes on to point out that we often fall far short of this ideal. And, indeed, humans have a tendency to “other” those who come from outside—making them feel unwelcome at best, dehumanizing them at worst. Quindlen asserts, correctly, that what may be expected to make us weaker—difference—actually makes us stronger. Different people come to this country with the same desire that is claimed as a right in our Declaration of Independence: the freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Their contributions build up and enrich our country.
In this issue, we celebrate Ocala’s vibrant Hispanic community. All of our subjects are entrepreneurs—builders of businesses and job creators. Regina Jaramillo (page 11), who immigrated as a child with her sisters, and Lina Piedrahita (page 16), who chose to follow her husband as a political refugee, are from Colombia. HVAC technician Alfredo Domenech (page 14), EPIC co-founder William Rullan (page 19), and our expert Sherry Allen-Reeves (page 25) came from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. Dennis Gonzalez (page 28) grew up in both Puerto Rico and New Jersey and uses his non-profit to ensure families in need have a wonderful Christmas.
Restaurateur Angel Cortes, spotlighted in The Chewsletter (page 33), is the son of a Mexican immigrant and credits his father for teaching him how to cook.
We are also honored by contributions from immigrants who came from beyond Latin America. As a child, columnist Manal Fakhoury immigrated from Palestine with her family and has been a dynamic member of Ocala’s philanthropic community for almost three decades. This month, she offers her expert advice on making the most of a multigenerational workforce (page 23). FAFO Emeritus Board Member Sagi Asokan (page 7) grew up in India and has spent nearly 40 years cultivating our local arts community.
Speaking of local artists, be sure to visit our Artist Q&A section on page 37 and get to know Laurie Kopec and Jeff Jarrett.
My sister Lisa and I are proud descendants of immigrants. Our Norwegian great-grandfather thought he would find streets literally strewn with money, but when didn’t, he went to work. He was criticized for marrying a daughter of Swedish immigrants; the two did not usually mix. Together, they built a family who started businesses, farmed, and fought for our country in World War II. Without their bravery and industry, we would not be here.
All My Best, Jodi Anderson