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Toledo library manager honored by native Dominican Republic

Flag presentation could be start of larger cultural exchange

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    Cynthia Arias, left, poses for a photograph with her mother Celeste Felix-Taylor, the manager of the South Branch Library, after Ramon Gomez presented a Dominican Flag to the library Thursday at the McMaster Center in the main branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in downtown Toledo.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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    Celeste Felix-Taylor, right, the manager of the South Branch Library, pauses in her remarks after Ramon Gomez, center, presented a Dominican Flag to the library Thursday at the McMaster Center in the main branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in downtown Toledo.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
    Buy This Image

As the Dominican Republic’s flag unfurled behind her at Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s downtown branch, Celeste Taylor began to cry.

“My mother would be so proud,” she said.

library10p

Cynthia Arias, left, poses for a photograph with her mother Celeste Felix-Taylor, the manager of the South Branch Library, after Ramon Gomez presented a Dominican Flag to the library Thursday at the McMaster Center in the main branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library in downtown Toledo.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Ms. Taylor had been the library system’s South Branch manager for about six months when she received a call from the Dominican Republic’s President Danilo Medina, congratulating her on her position and for representing her native country so well. On Thursday, the library was presented with a flag from the country by Ramon Gomez Uribe, an engineer who owns a company there and works for the government but whose family lives in Toledo.

Ms. Taylor moved to Toledo 17 years ago from New York City, where her family moved in the late 1960s from Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital. For years, she was an auditor for Head Start, the federally-funded early-childhood education program.

She had been looking for a quieter, more “wholesome” place to raise her family, but it was a move away from her culture. Now, part of her cultural identity hangs in the McMaster Family Center for Lifelong Learning, and there’s a hope to bring more.

The engineer and business owner said he and the country’s government want to create a cultural exchange program between the Dominican and Toledo, as a way for residents to learn more about each other. Ultimately, there’s hope for a sister city connection.

“They want this to open the doors,” Ms. Taylor said.

Zarai Gomez told attendees to the ceremony, on behalf of her father, the flag represents that Dominican immigrants come to the United States to contribute to this country.

Cynthia Arias, Ms. Taylor’s daughter, the Kent Branch supervisor, and said she’s talked up the library system to her mother for years. It was an honor, she said, for her mother to be honored, and it isn’t every day she gets to meet other Dominicans.

Having Dominican natives ascend through the ranks of diverse industries is important, Ms. Taylor said, because many Americans know only of baseball players from the nation. 

“Of all of the things I’ve done,” she said, “this is one of the most honorable.” 

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at nrosenkrans@theblade.com419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.

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