By Matt Larson
For 30 years the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Contra Costa County (H5C) has been dedicated to supporting its members by developing, enhancing and promoting their business opportunities for the greater economic prosperity of not just the Hispanic community, but the county as a whole. And they cover the entire county—19 cities totaling a population of 1.2 million people, 25% of which are Hispanic.
“We aim to represent all the constituents of Contra Costa County, Hispanic or not, and we aim to be the Latino voice in the conversation,” said Evodio “Vo” Walle, Vice President and Treasurer of H5C. “What we’re capitalizing on the most now is the longstanding relationships with local government—that’s taken quite a bit of time to get the recognition from the municipalities.” They’re now in a position to really make a difference and help their members get their voices heard. “When we call upon a mayor in any particular city we can get their attention. We get their support.”
At just over a year with the chamber, Walle is proud to be a part of it. “My coming to the chamber is primarily a manifestation of my desire to give back something to my community,” he said. Giving back does run in the family, as his brother is a police lieutenant in Richmond where Walle was born and raised. “[My brother] has been living a life of service. This was something that, for me, was a way to give back.” Walle is also President/CEO of Commerce Logistics in Concord, founded in 2003. It’s a communication platform specializing in marketing and consulting, skills which he has been using to help benefit H5C.
“One of the things that I think defines my approach with the Hispanic Chamber is that I see things being more as one,” said Walle. “I reinforce the fact that we’re giving back to the community in a way that enhances the quality of life for not just the Hispanic merchant, but also for well-established, non-Latino owned businesses to gain access to an ever increasing and important Latino segment; we give merchants, the community and the government access to the Latino constituents within Contra Costa County.”
Where H5C can find the most success is represented by a circular chart on their website signifying the three main aspects of the chamber: Community, Commerce and Government. Traditionally these aspects have been focused on interdependently, rather than as a whole. Over this past year Walle had a sort of vision of a snake eating its own tail that inspired the chart they’re using today. “It was an image I couldn’t get out of my head,” he said. “After a few days it all coalesced in to this understanding: the snake eating the tail is actually a very ancient and sacred symbol that represents this ‘return to self’, this cycle of perpetual improvement, and this is all really one thing that we’re doing here.” So that chart now embodies how the chamber works and what their philosophy is.
Walle is also looking forward to a new event produced by H5C called the Fiesta de Mariscos which he describes as a crab feed with a Hispanic twist. One example is that instead of the usual raffle to help fundraise, they’ll play lotería, Spanish for “lottery”, which is a Latin game originating in Mexico that is very similar to bingo. “It’s something that’s kind of like a Mexican bingo at a sort of Mexican crab feed,” he said. “This is going to be a fundraiser that we’re going to pilot in Richmond and eventually take the learnings from and turn it into a higher scale, charitable event.” They don’t yet have the official date for the event but Walle envisions it happening in the 4th quarter of the term.
H5C recently updated their website with plenty of information about who they are and what they have going on. If you have any questions or would like to get involved, find them on facebook.com/hispanicchambercontracosta or visit their website at H5C.org.