CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)– This month, WCBD is celebrating Hispanic heritage by honoring the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the culture, history, and achievements of the United States.
Diana Salazar-Guzman has long supported Latino causes. The Summerville resident encourages voting, calls for immigration reform, and assists families integrating in the Lowcountry.
“Everything is new, the language is new, the food is new, the school is new,” Salazar-Guzman said.
A local high school principal noticed the difficult transition for students and encouraged Salazar-Guzaman to come up with a creative way to keep a Latino coming of age tradition alive.
“As a Latina, even as generations that we have been in this this country, we keep some culture in us and that is something to be very proud of,” she said. “We keep some culture with us. There are some values that can never be taken from your heart,” she added.
Salazar-Guzman jumped on the idea to offer a free quinceañera for young women turning 15-years-old. The parties, that resemble a debutante ball or sweet 16, can be very costly. Guzman-Salazar provides dresses, tiaras, decorators, and dance classes with the help of donors.
“I try to incorporate girls that are new to this country, girls in foster care, or have single moms and dads,” she said.
Historically, quinceañera’s have a big emphasis on community, family, and religion. Salazar-Guzman said they are not for the faint of heart.
“It’s just so much fun, nerve wracking, and tiring,” she said. “You go from picking your dress, to your tiara, to your shoes, to your tennis shoes, to your surprise dress, and a total different wardrobe,” she continued.
This October’s quinceañera was cancelled because of the pandemic but Salazar-Guzman says she is hopeful for next year’s celebration.