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A Local Latino Leader: Jaime Aguirre


Cinco de Mayo is this coming Saturday, a day to celebrate Latin pride and heritage here in the United States.

On Thursday, NewsChannel21 profiled Jaime Aguirre, a leader in the local Latino community.

People who work with Aguirre say he’s a very hard-working and humble person. He’s not only the co-owner of Ginger’s Kitchenware in Bend’s Old Mill District, he’s also involved in several organizations focused on enriching the lives of youth.

He often teaches cooking classes during the week, with some frequent students, just like Thursday afternoon, for a group from Eagle Crest who say they appreciate his efforts in the community.

“I love his personality,” said Annette Sternfeld of Redmond. “He’s just very warm and giving and caring.”

“It’s just a wonderful testament to the people that they are, and just their (Jaime’s and Ginger’s) warm-heartedness,” said Toni Sternfeld of Redmond.

“A community gets back what it gives out,” said Aguirre. “I was very welcomed here in Central Oregon five years ago, Ginger and I, without any connection to the community.”

“It was a group of community members that welcomed us and embraced us and afforded us the opportunity to do what we do today,” said Aguirre.

Together with his wife Ginger, Jaime was able to take his love for food and the community and combine them into one.

“He’s the philanthropic one, and he taught me how to be that way,” Ginger said. “But now here, being part of this community who embraces it so much and embraces us, I feel like we’ve come full circle.”

Aguirre’s work goes further than being a local business owner. He sits on the leadership board of the Central Oregon Community Foundation, as well as the Central Oregon Latino Partnership program.

He says his dedication is to educate the youth, and dozens of scholarships and grants to Latino and non-Latino students in Central Oregon have been granted through his work individually and on the board, including a grant to Redmond High School to start a brand new Mariachi band, and funds to build or remodel homes for those in need in partnership with Heart of Oregon Corps.

“Jaime is not only a wonderful leader, a wonderful human being, but he really wants to be effective for the youth in Central Oregon, Latino and non-Latino,” said Cheryl Puddy of the Oregon Community Foundation.

“He’s one of those quiet leaders, and you give him an assignment and he gets it done,” said Puddy. “He knows the people to connect, so we can get a project off the ground and see it through to fruition.”

He says he was invited to be a part of the Leadership Council years ago, and was hesitant at first. But he’s proved to be a driving force in the community, and hopes his efforts are everlasting.

“I said, ‘I don’t think I’m well-versed in the activities of this community,'” said Aguirre. “And she (a member of the Leadership Council) responded by saying, ‘If we don’t invite individuals like you who have recently moved here who have a diverse life experience, then we’re missing out on creating a cohesive community.'”

“And so I took that to heart, and I take seriously my commitment to give back to this community,” said Aguirre.

Aguirre is also the president of the newly created Central Oregon Scholarship Fund. This Saturday is the “Festival de Banderas” at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, from 10am – 10 pm.

All proceeds from the event go directly to the scholarship fund.

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