Thursday, September 21, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Antonio Sanchez, a Maywood native and recently elected trustee for the village, spoke to the Maywood Proviso Rotary Club on Sept. 21 at Meal of the Day Café, 1701 S. 1st Ave. (Suite 410), for the club’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Sanchez spoke about his family’s deep history in the village. Nearly two decades ago, Sanchez’s family started Mariella’s Banquets Inc., 124 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood, which Sanchez now operates.
What a month to be Hispanic. We’ve had earthquakes and hurricanes pummeling Latin America, but we are a resilient culture.
I am the first son of Mexican immigrants. I have two younger siblings. I’m the oldest out of all of my cousins. My father is the oldest out of all of his brothers and sisters. My mother is the oldest out of her brothers and sisters.
They immigrated to this country in the late 1970s. I am born and raised here, but I did live the immigrant life, where you wake up in the morning, go to work, come back and you hide behind closed doors in fear of what is out there. Through all those trials and tribulations, Maywood was the community that opened its arms to my family. My roots are dug in here like the solid Oak trees that line these streets.
We lived here in Maywood on 5th and Lake Street above Stairway of the Stars for some time before it burned down. I went to Jane Addams. From there, I went to Fenwick High School, graduated, and then went to [the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign].
I was the first to graduate from college in my family. I set a precedence for my siblings and the rest of my cousins. I graduated with an economics degree with a finance background, so business was my niche.
My grandfather worked for Union Pacific — a great job to have. In the 70s and 80s, there was this program that allowed you to become a citizen. My grandfather went through that program and became an American citizen.
He had the opportunity to purchase a building on 5th Ave., a storefront. At the time it was an old speakeasy billiards hall and two other storefronts. We converted this building into a banquet hall and have had it now close to 20 years.
Growing up in this community, we saw the change and still see the change. We breathe, live, sweat, and bleed our business and our community. If you don’t have a business that opens its doors to its community, then what’s the point? VFP
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