On Tuesday evening, the Ladies of La Poste opened their doors to the Latino community of Perry for a night of unity and conversation between new Hotel Pattee owner, Tom Maxwell, and hotel manager, Aaron Lenz. The night featured discussion of what a home is to many in the community and how the hotel can work together with Perry’s Latino population, which accumulates to 40 percent of the community.
Guests were invited to take part in a drawing featuring many items donated from the Hotel Pattee: two hour bowling part, tequila testing event, free night in a guest room, dinner for four, room rental for a gathering, and a 6 month family membership at the McCreary Center donated by the City of Perry.
Prior to speakers, Maxwell and Lenz received a welcome song performance by students from St. Patrick’s Catholic School. Afterwards, Jenny Eklund, co-owner of La Poste and President of Art on the Prairie addressed the crowd.
“What I find really interesting is that he has donated thousands of dollars to community and he doesn’t even take over officially until Thursday, March 1,” Eklund said. “In all the years I’ve been here, and I’ve known many of the hotel owners, I have to say since Roberta, Tom is the first one that has come to me or I’ve even heard talk about the Latino community.”
“He’s also the first one that I truly believe in my heart, has already given to the community. It makes my heart sing and it also shows me how he’s here to stay, he’s here to help us, and he’s here to [take] part.”
Eklund recognized many in the crowd, including those involved in the police force, ministry, medical field, musicians, artists, and many more.
“When I first came to Perry, I was told that the Hispanic population was 40 percent,” said Tom Maxwell, new Hotel Pattee owner. “I did not know that prior to my visit [and] I was very excited to get to know that community more.”
For Maxwell, catering to the entire population is essential in handling the business.
“You need to get to know them and understand why they’re coming to the hotel, or why they do not come to the hotel,” Maxwell said. “It was just important for me because I’ve heard so many people say that the hotel is kind of the heartbeat of Perry – that’s a huge responsibility for me.”
“If I have that responsibility, then how do I share that with everybody in the community.”
Between raffle drawings, speakers came forward to tell their tale in either the English or Spanish language. In addition to raffle tickets, job applications to work at the Hotel Pattee were made accessible for any in attendance wishing to start up a different career.
St. Patrick’s Catholic School Principal, Eddie Diaz, spoke during the event.
“Home is where my family is at,” Diaz told the audience about making Perry his home.
A translator spoke directly to Maxwell during the Spanish speaking portion of the evening.
“I was really touched by their own stories and their concerns,” Maxwell reflected after the event. “I think they were speaking from their heart and sharing their own personal story, [of] what they’ve experienced prior to coming to Perry and what they’ve experienced in Perry.”
“I was incredibly moved by how they welcomed me and by how kind they were to me.”
Maxwell thanked the Ladies of La Poste for organizing the evening.
“I truly appreciate everybody that came this evening and their interest and willingness to come and meet us,” Maxwell said. “I just hope I get to keep meeting people every chance I get.”