Tampa, FL -
Civil Air Patrol, much like the U.S. Armed Forces, recognizes the need to address and embrace the diversity of our membership. A multi-culturally diverse organization can provide improved productivity, increased innovation and greater flexibility. Major MJ Ricketts, FLWG Director of Recruiting & Retention, says “By being a diverse organization, it helps us reach ALL our neighbors, showing communities that we can all work together towards a common goal.” To achieve the synergistic effects of diversity, the Florida Wing has emphasized a continued commitment to mirror the communities we support and increase education throughout the organization.
With a goal to increase diversity recruitment as a priority, The FLWG viewed the 15th Annual Conga Caliente as the perfect venue to reach the Hispanic community as the festival welcomes attendees from all over Florida. Conga Caliente is Tampa’s number one family festival and the second largest Hispanic festival in the state. 2nd Lt. Gisela Villasenor, FLWG Assistant Director of Recruiting & Retention, highlights the need by saying “It’s very important to be known and visible in the community, telling the story of who we are and what we do”. The Wing had 14 Senior Members and Cadets greet the nearly 60,000 guests immediately as they entered the festival held at AL Lopez Park on Saturday, November 3rd. With the rhythmic sounds of Salsa in the background, the community gained an understanding of Civil Air Patrol’s mission and the opportunities open to new volunteers. Several festival attendees were previous CAP members in Puerto Rico, now displaced to Florida after hurricanes devastated the island last year. Civil Air Patrol’s presence at the festival was a tremendous success, increasing the organizations visibility within the Hispanic community and driving new, talented volunteers to the local units, however continued emphasis on diversity must persist. Lt. Villasenor says local commanders have an obligation to “make sure members know we have an ‘open door’, regardless of people’s background. Everybody should have the opportunity to serve the community and the country.”