December 12, 2008
By America Barcelo Feldman
VISTA - It was 18 years ago but to Jose Jaimes it seems like it was just yesterday that he and his two brothers arrived in this country to take care for their father. As all migrant children, Jose and brothers experienced the social and cultural barriers after having left their country as children.
His experience as migrant has made it easy for him to understand the problems suffered by the Hispanic community everyday.
After arriving to this country Jose and his two brothers grew up almost alone in the shadow of a father who worked two shifts just to maintain them.
Jose wanted to do something more with his life than to be in the streets involved with problems or negative things. Then one day he found his fate, when he was introduced to the Mexican folkloric dance. This activity became his passion in his life.
In 2005 he founded his own dance folkloric group named “Ballet Tierra Caliente” becoming a talented young dance group, and having successful presentations in different community events throughout San Diego County.
His desires to achieve and benefit the community inspired him to create a cultural and educative initiative, under the project “Tierra Caliente Folkloric Dances and Educational Excellence Program”, to inject into Vista’s youth the desire to succeed in life.
With his personal motto ‘Cultivating education through the Arts’ Jose has managed to instill a positive message into the lives of the most needy children and teenagers in Vista.
Due to his dedication and intense voluntary work with this cultural and education program recently Jose Jaimes received the prestigious ‘Local Hero Award’ from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc.
This award is very competitive, and is given through the Neighborhood Excellence Initiative program. The award honors the commitment to the growth and vitality of San Diego County. The prestigious award recognizes the nurturing rewards of non profit organizations, local heroes, and student leaders who help their neighborhoods achieve excellence.
The ceremony in which Jose was recognized took place past Thursday, November 6, 2008 at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park.
“This prize filled me with pride, because it is the way in which I can see that all my sacrifices and efforts have been rewarded. This inspires me to continue ahead helping our community”, mentioned Jaimes.
For Jose to help kids in his community has become more than an activity, now it is one of his challenges. His dream is to make this program expand and reach more children and adolescents, and to provide the tools helping them achieve their academic goals.
“This program is beyond the dance, even though still we have the founding members of this ballet. We continue dancing and preparing presentations, but also we have extended our efforts into educational programs for kids. We want them to learn our traditions, culture and dances. But at the same time, we also want to help them with school homework. That’s why we provide different educative resources to help them achieve”, he explains.
This program was recently established in Townsite Community Center in Vista. This is the only center that offers support to this educative and cultural program directed to the Hispanic community and to low income families.
“Our work is voluntary, we began without any funds and supporters, but we are growing and more families are arriving to the program. We are consolidating our goals and we hope one day we will have more aid from other institutions. The most important part is to know that we are growing. Our efforts and work has started being recognized, and it is the meaning of the prize I received”, said Jaimes.
At 28 years of age, Jose is an example to follow. At the moment he is studying psychology at the University of California in San Marcos. Besides, he works in a gardening company, and in his free time is completely dedicated to Tierra Caliente program. There he directs the dance group with 20 to 25 adults. In addition he supervises, instructs and guides more than 30 children.
Without a doubt Jose is a roll model dedicated in body and soul to excel in education as well as traditions of Mexican culture.
For him to be named “Local Hero” is not only an honor, but also it is a source of inspiration that moves him ahead to help the Latino community.
“Little by little we are making progress, we are bringing parents to become involved in their kids education. This certainly is going to make a difference in the kids’ life. The more attention they get from their parents, the more probability they will prevail. We want to see our children graduate and follow ahead with their studies”, commented Jaimes.
The objective of the program “Tierra Caliente” is to inspire children to reach excellence; providing programs that inspire them to do cultural and educative activities, maintaining them far from the streets, gangs and drugs.
“I am proud of this program, my dream is that “Tierra Caliente” becomes an artistic and educative organization that captures our traditions and manages to create the future professionals willing to help further our Hispanic community”, emphasized Jaimes.
Because this program does not receive outside economic aid for growth, every year the dance group ‘Tierra Caliente’ hosts the annual celebration “Dance and Dine” to collect money that can help to maintain its activities.
This year the Annual Dance and Dinner will be taking place this Saturday, December 13 from 4 to 10pm at Townsite Community Center located in the 642 Vista Village Dr, Vista CA. There will be food, folkloric dances, presentations, poetry, educative conferences and music. For information, call (760) 509-5591.