- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) - More than 50 years of a tradition continues, and is evolving through time.

One of Union Benefica Mexicana’s most noted ceremonies is its yearly crowning of its queen and her court.

To the UBM, the court means more than crowning a beauty. It means investing in a culture and encouraging young leaders, ages 18 to 23, to understand and share the heritage.

The organization’s first queen was selected in 1957 and she remembers the importance of such a prestigious title in the community.

“I never really fully comprehended what the role of the queen was, but I knew it was revered in our culture,” Catherine Lopez-Delgado, the 1957 UBM queen and a Dyer resident, told The Elkhart Truth (https://bit.ly/1whH8ge ). “I was very honored to have been named the UBM’s first queen.”

Today, the crown still remains a prestigious distinction and includes an academic scholarship as well as special appearances at various community events.

This year, Trinidad Resendez holds the distinction after being pushed into the pageant by a family friend.

“It was really a shock to me, because initially I had no interest in the pageant,” Resendez said.

She is an Ivy Tech student from Knox who currently lives in Muncie.

“I was born on a horse farm and am more of a jeans-and-boots kind of girl,” she said. “But after I realized how committed the pageant coordinator was, I felt empowered to be connected to my community and use this opportunity to positively influence other Latinas.”

Resendez remembers “bumping heads” with pageant coordinator Margaret Gomez and feels that she was being “stubborn” and didn’t fully appreciate the honor and understand its significance.

“I really owe Margaret, because as uncommitted I was initially, she never gave up on me and she is like a mother to me now, because she helped me to realize the value in this honor,” Resendez said. “She inspired me to mentor others and give back to my community. I will tell every single young lady that will listen to follow their dreams and reach out to others.”

Resendez is currently riding in a rodeo circuit.

This year, UBM also crowned its first Tiny Queen with the intention of starting to educate and mentor community youth even earlier about their culture. Adeana Vargas, of Gary, is the first Tiny Queen.

“We are so rich in heritage and we have so many blessings in this country,” said Margaret Gomez, UBM Pageant coordinator and an East Chicago resident. “We owe it to our youth to give back and show them that there is plenty of support and encouragement to attain their dreams.”

Since 1956, UBM has made it its mission to celebrate Mexican-American culture and counts on its queen and her court to attend various events of goodwill and education.

“The UBM has always been a leadership organization,” said UBM President Tony Barreda, of Whiting.

“We sent thousands of dollars, bottled water to victims of Hurricane Katrina, provided scholarships, purchased an ambulance for a poor town in Mexico and even helped local families that faced tragic events. I’m very proud of what our organization does and who we serve.”

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Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com


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