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Irving Hispanic Chamber’s Gala Goes Hollywood

Photo by Stephen Hunt

Irving—The Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) chose a theme for its annual gala to conclude 2021 on a high note with ‘Irving Goes Hollywood’ at Irving Convention Center on Saturday, Dec. 11.

Upon arriving, gala attendees were introduced and posed for pictures as they made their way across the red carpet.

“It’s really cool and fun to dress up,” Mary Ann Kellam, president and CEO of the IHCC, said. “We wanted to give it that feel of the Hollywood Oscars and that red carpet experience with paparazzi everywhere just get people into the spirit of it.”

After walking the red carpet, attendees could select a drink from one of several bars set up in the lobby and network with fellow guests.

Afterward, attendees returned to the lobby where a casino awaited. Guests could gamble their allotment of chips and receive tickets for their winnings. They could place their tickets at one of several prize packages, which were awarded through a drawing.

The casino was the brainchild of JC Gonzalez, IHCC’s past chairman of the board.

“We started the casino when I was chairman of the board,” Gonzalez said. “It was an incredible event, because more people attended the casino fundraiser than attended the actual convention. Ever since then, we’ve been using that to raise funds for our scholarships. Proceeds benefit our education foundation, which allows us to give money back to our community and provide scholarships for students.”

Kellam was pleased with how the evening came together.

“A lot of the money that’s raised through the item auctions and the casino benefit the Education Foundation, which is how we award scholarships,” Kellam said. “We have 460 people registered for this event, more than ever before. Last year, we had 350.”

“They’ve done such great work over the past 20-plus years,” Mayor Rick Stopfer said. “The networking [at events like this] is always important. I think the fundraising is an exciting thing, and the opportunity for them all to come together [is important].”

“Irving Hispanic Chamber does a lot of good work helping those individuals with small and medium-sized businesses to get them information and education to have a successful business,” Irving Cares CEO Kyle Taylor said. “Whether it’s networking or marketing, they do a tremendous job. Really proud of what they’ve done.”

The IHCC knows how tough the past few years have been for many small and medium-sized business.Their work to assist these businesses is more important now than ever before.

“The fact there’s more Hispanic businesses, especially [ones run by] Hispanic women, we have to be here to help them,” Kellam said. “We have to be here to help them get started properly and scale up, making sure that they’re doing what’s right.

“During the pandemic, we noticed some holes in how we were helping some of these businesses,which needed to be corrected, so we were able to have Northlake College give us a course we can offer to business owners.”

During the event, the following people and businesses were honored with awards:

Carmen Guzman, LegalShield: Volunteer of the Year

Kat Caligone, Ms Cali Solutions: Ambassador of the Year

CIMA Logistics, LLC: Business of the Year

Karina Rodriguez, Rodriguez Insurance Resource: Entrepreneur of the Year

Precision Orthopedics & Sports Medicine: Corporation of the Year

Dallas College, Northlake Campus: Partner of the Year

Irving Cares: Non-Profit of the Year

Don Herring – Don Herring Mitsubishi: Lifetime Service Award

JC Gonzalez – Wells Fargo: President’s Choice Award

Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer and Melanie Stopfer: Gracias Award.