Maria Dominguez, Contributing Writer – The Independent Florida Alligator – University of Florida
Nov 14, Gainesville, Florida – About 20 people danced to salsa music, ate tacos, drank margaritas and gave money to hurricane victims in Cuba Monday night.
Elio Piedra, the lead singer and percussionist of local latin music band Latino’s Sound Machine, hosted a fundraising event at Felipe’s Taqueria, located at 1209 W. University Ave., to help the people affected by the Hurricanes Maria and Irma in Cuba.
Tickets were $25 and included live music and appetizers donated by Felipe’s. All the money collected, which amounted to $540 by the end of the night, will be used to buy materials to rebuild homes in Cuba, Piedra said.
“Helping others in need is a good thing,” said Piedra, who was born in Cuba. “Cuba is my country, and it really hurts.”
In January, he and a small group of volunteers will bring the construction supplies to Cuba and help people in the cities of Baracoa and Yaguajay, he said. He is planning on hosting more fundraising events before his trip.
“Whatever we can do for Cuba is going to be helpful,” Piedra said. “Whatever you can do for them is good.”
This past hurricane season was troublesome for Cuba and its people, said Chris Charters, the band’s violinist and a Cuban-American. This type of events provide Hispanics with the possibility of connecting with its roots and helping its people, he said.
“I like that we’re bringing awareness and attention to Cuba,” Charters said. “The money that we’re raising here today is going to really do well.”
Miriam Fontalvo Montoya, and her daughter Diana Montoya Williams, attended the event to help the cause and enjoy a night of food and live Latin music. The Colombian mother-daughter pair said they wanted to support other Hispanics in their time of need.
“As Latinos we need to stand in solidarity with each other,” Montoya Williams said. “ (We want) to have fun and help at the same time.”