(WMC-TV) – Honorees and guests wearing their best made their way inside the East Memphis Hilton Hotel Saturday for the Latino Leadership Awards Gala.
In its third year, the event is a fundraiser to support the Memphis Future Latino Leaders Scholarship Fund.
The evening was presented by State Farm and sponsors included Memphis shipping giant FedEx.
Alisha Dumas with the National Hispanic Professional Organization says the night is about empowerment.
"The first year we were able to raise quite a bit of money but this year we were about to raise over $15,000," said Dumas. "We really want to take this opportunity to give back and make this community better," she added.
In the past decade there has been a 47% increase in crimes against Hispanics in Tennessee.
Just last month in Memphis U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton, who attended Saturday's event, announced a crack down to combat those who prey on members of the Hispanic community.
An editor for La Prensa Latina, the largest Latino newspaper in the Mid-South, Vivian Adamson says community events like this give Latino victims a voice.
"We want to let them know that they can speak whether they are documented or not. We are all humans and it is about human rights," stated Adamson.
Award recipients included local teachers, young professionals, and business leaders.
Dumas says she hopes to inspire more organizations to support the Latino community.
"As we grow we have people reaching out to us because they see the good work we are doing," Dumas said.
The $15,000 raised from Saturday night's event will be distributed to 10 Latino students. Organizers say a committee of volunteers spent hours to make sure the event was a success.