When he heard about the catastrophic landslide that buried an entire community last month, Candido Hernandez didn’t know what he could do to help.
But he knew what he could do well.
Candido Hernandez of Monroe is an event promoter who, with his family company Promociones Nayarit, organizes large events for the Hispanic community, including rodeos that draw thousands to the Monroe fairgrounds.
Many of those events involve live music, so he knew his company could find bands.
“We organized a bunch of bands at a nightclub to raise money,” he said. “But you never know if people are going to go, you know?”
Promociones Nayarit rounded up seven bands, all Hispanic, and Friday, April 11, held a concert at a Tacoma club called The Tenampa.
The donation to get in was $10. At the end of the night, they’d raised more than $5,000.
“I was amazed how many people showed up,” said Hernandez, whose father and business partner owns Big C Recycling in Monroe, as well. “It really made me feel good.”
What happened the next day made him feel even better, he said.
He, his dad and mom, his wife, his son and some of the people who helped him organize the event all rode out to Oso together.
The first stop they made was at the Oso Fire Station.
“They looked at us, like, ‘what are you doing here?’ And I said, ‘We came to donate money,’” said Hernandez. “And all these people were coming in and I thought, these are people who are looking for bodies. They asked how much we were donating and we said $2,500. And they were crying and we were almost crying. And I never felt that before. Man, all our hard work paid off to bring these people the money.”
The volunteers at the fire department explained to the group all the latest news; where the bodies had been found and where the searchers were looking for others.
While there, the Hernandez family met a group of women who were volunteering to feed the searchers day and night.
“We volunteered to help any way we could,” said Hernandez.
Then they headed over to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, where they brought the rest of the donations to help people who had lost loved ones pay for funeral costs.
On the road up to Oso, the seriousness of the situation struck Hernandez. Everywhere were yellow ribbons tied around trees and signs of support. And then, at the site, seeing people come in from doing the actual search work was moving.
“I can’t imagine what people went through in 9/11,” said Hernandez. “It was really emotional, seeing the reality of people with mud to the waist.”
The Hernandez family left Oso with a new idea.
The women who were serving the food to the searchers had been hard at work for a long time. Could it be possible to round up Mexican restaurants to bring food one day and give the women a break?
Hernandez is currently commuting to Olympia every day, where he is working to renovate a hotel, but he hopes he can find the time to see what more his community might do in coming days.