Iris Milagros Diaz. (Contributed Photo)
Iris Milagros Diaz named city’s Hispanic of the Year
WEST HAVEN, Oct. 1, 2019 — Iris Milagros Diaz, a public-spirited steward of West Haven known for giving back to its thriving Hispanic American community, will receive the city’s Hispanic American of the Year award at the second annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration.
The West Haven Hispanic Heritage Committee will fete Diaz, the daughter of parents hailing from Guayama, Puerto Rico, on Friday at City Hall, 355 Main St.
The committee bestows the award annually on a Hispanic resident, or couple, who personifies service in West Haven’s vibrant Hispanic American community.
Diaz said she is proud of her new distinction as well as her civic accomplishments, saying that her family and community’s love is the driving force behind her success.
“One must lead by example,” said Diaz, who won the Miss Puerto Rico of New Haven Pageant in 1988.
Diaz, 50, will honor her Puerto Rican lineage with dozens of friends and loved ones, along with an array of dignitaries and descendants of folks from Puerto Rico and Latin America.
Committee members and West Haven officials, including Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, will escort Diaz to the steps of City Hall at 11:30 a.m. for her special recognition.
A Latin-flavored lunch provided by local restaurants will follow in the First Congregational Church of West Haven’s Fellowship Hall, at 1 Church St. opposite City Hall on the Green.
West Haven’s diversity is its strength, Rossi said, and Diaz is a testament to the American dream.
“For the second year, I am pleased to present the Hispanic American of the Year award to a well-deserving resident,” Rossi said. “Allingtown fire Commissioner Iris Diaz has a long record of community service in West Haven. She embodies the generosity and warmth that Puerto Ricans are known for.”
In observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15, the city recognizes the important legacy of Hispanic Americans and the inspiring contributions they have made to the culture and history of the United States.
Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on the civic and cultural life of America through their strong commitment to faith and family, hard work and public service. They have enhanced and shaped the national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.
Hispanic Heritage Month, which traces its roots to 1968, begins each year on Sept. 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days during that period.
The term Hispanic refers to Puerto Rican, South American or Central American, and other Spanish cultures or origins regardless of race. On the 2010 census form, people of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origins could identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.”
Rossi said Diaz, a resident of West Haven since 2000, epitomizes the noble qualities of serving her community and carrying on the spirited traditions of Puerto Rico.
She is a member of the Latino Haven Committee of West Haven and was the Hispanic Society of West Haven’s public relations representative from 2004 to 2009.
A member of the Yale Latino Networking Group, she has been an ambassador and a steering committee member of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven since 2015.
After her reign as Miss Puerto Rico of New Haven, Diaz was a pageant coordinator, mentor and judge for many years.
Rossi lauded the civic-minded Diaz, whom she called a woman of faith and family, for her wholehearted devotion to the city and its robust Hispanic American community.
Rossi will present her with a Puerto Rican flag and a mayoral citation for her myriad good works.
Diaz will also receive a black jacket embroidered with her new title: Hispanic American of the Year.
The cultural event will include remarks from mayoral Executive Assistant Lou Esposito, the master of ceremonies. Before a blessing, Maribel Aguilar-Meza will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Puerto Rican national anthem, “La Borinqueña,” followed by a greeting from Rossi.
Diaz was born in the South Bronx, a borough of New York City, and moved to New Haven with her family at age 15.
Raised by her “single, strong, independent” mother, Nancy Cruz, Diaz said she knew early on that she wanted to help make a difference in her community.
Diaz’s community involvement began in 1985 as a volunteer for the American Red Cross helping veterans at the West Haven Veterans Affairs Hospital.
Three years later, she graduated from The Sound School, a regional vocational aquaculture center in New Haven. She earned an associate degree in science from Gateway Community College in 1993.
Diaz, a 27-year employee of Yale University, is a clinical trials research recruitment coordinator at the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, a department of the Yale School of Medicine. She specializes in educating area residents on the importance of increasing minority representation in clinical trial studies and protecting their privacy and rights.
Diaz’s contributions to West Haven include serving as vice chair of the Charter Revision Commission and sitting on the Board of Fire Commissioners of the City of West Haven Fire Department Allingtown. She is the first Hispanic to serve on the fire commission and was its chairwoman in 2016-17.
Diaz has also volunteered at other organizations through the years, including the West Haven Girl Scouts, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America and the New Haven Diaper Bank.
She lives with her mother on Tuthill Street in Allingtown and has two grown children, Mark Anthony and Jessica Goodwin.
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Flu clinic on tap for Oct. 18 at Savin Rock Conference Center, 6 Rock St.
WEST HAVEN, Oct. 1, 2019 — The Health Department will hold a flu clinic for city residents 18 and older from 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 18 at the Savin Rock Conference Center, 6 Rock St.
The walk-in clinic will accept the following insurances: Medicare, Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Insurance carriers Cigna, ConnectiCare, UnitedHealthcare and Medicaid are not participating.
Residents should bring all insurance cards and wear a short-sleeved shirt.
People can also pay by cash or check. The private pay rate is $40 for a quadrivalent flu shot and $65 for a high-dose flu shot for those 65 and older.
Gov. advises Connecticut residents to take precautions against EEE
HARTFORD, Sept. 25, 2019 — Gov. Ned Lamont is advising Connecticut residents to take proper precautions to protect themselves against Eastern equine encephalitis, also known as EEE.
Read the governor’s official News Release.
Energy assistance offered
WEST HAVEN, Sept. 27, 2019 — The city will begin accepting applications for the federally financed Connecticut Energy Assistance Program in the Department of Human Resources on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.
Appointments for all heating sources can be made, starting Oct. 1, by calling 203-937-3572.
Applications will be processed by appointment Mondays through Thursdays. No walk-ins will be accepted.
Applicants who have difficulty speaking English are asked to bring a translator.
Eligibility for assistance is based on the income and assets of an applicant’s household. To qualify, applicants must provide pay stubs, including monthly Social Security benefits and pension checks, for the last four weeks for all household members 18 and older.
Applicants must also provide documentation of assets — recent bank account statements for all accounts for all household members — along with a current utility bill, Social Security numbers and birthdates for all household members.
Way to Go!
WEST HAVEN, Sept. 25, 2019 — West Haven High School social worker Skylar Drayder, left, and special education teacher Mary Moore receive the Way to Go award Sept. 19 from city Youth and Family Services Director Robert S. Morton and sophomore Lance Andriulli on behalf of the West Haven Interagency Network for Children.
Drayder and Moore were nominated by Theresa Andriulli, co-chair of the West Haven Parent Support Group for special needs children, for “always going out of their way to help my grandson, Lance, with school assignments.”
The Way to Go program recognizes teachers, therapists and coaches who go above and beyond to help children and establish better relationships with families and providers.
(City Photo/Theresa Andriulli)
‘Boot’ program resumes
WEST HAVEN, Sept. 20, 2019 — City residents who are delinquent on their taxes are urged to pay their overdue taxes as soon as possible.
The “boot” program resumed on Sept. 16, and those who are delinquent on their motor vehicle taxes risk their vehicles being immobilized with a wheel-locking boot.
TaxServ Capital Services LLC of Hartford is the city’s vendor that administers the program in cooperation with Vioalert Systems LLC of West Haven.
A vehicle-mounted ID system that is part of the boot program uses an infrared license plate scanner to target tax scofflaws. Vehicles are released of the boot once their owners pay all delinquent taxes and the boot fee.
Taxpayers can check if they owe any back taxes and pay online at Tax Collector. They can also pay in person in the tax office on the first floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.