GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off Sept. 15 and runs until Oct. 15. To celebrate, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan is working with its staff to educate each other about the different cultures within their community.

Those at the Hispanic Center say their ultimate goal is diversity and making sure everyone has a voice and feels comfortable using it.

For Mexico’s Independence Day, the staff got together for a luncheon in hopes of getting to know one another just a little bit better.

“We’re celebrating so that we can know each other because we all come from different places,” said Marisol Garcia, an administrative assistant at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.

Garcia says this year has been far from easy for the Latino community.

“Right now, with COVID and everything that is going politically, we just want to make sure that we all feel okay,” said Garcia.

Garcia says being there for one another is crucial right now.

“From finding (personal protective equipment) gear, which has been a little bit hard and right now within our community, I can see that online learning is a new thing. At the end of the day, here at the Hispanic Center, we want to help,” said Garcia.

Garcia says it’s important not just to learn about your own history but also the past of those around you.

“It’s not that I specifically feel that people should know about Hispanic heritage, I feel people should be open to learn any kind of heritage,” said Garcia.

She believes this mindset will lead toward a brighter future.

“Diversity is important,” said Garcia. “Of course, since we’re the Hispanic Center, we do focus on the Hispanic community; however, we want to learn, we want to make sure that everybody feels comfortable.”

Garcia says usually during Hispanic Heritage Month they would host more events for the community but aren’t doing so this year because of the pandemic and they want to keep everyone safe.