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Mexican Club contributes $30,000 to county family, children support center

Castulo B. Guzman and Ramona Valdez stand with the check they presented to the Family Support and Children's Justice Center.
First Mexican Club queen Lydia Escandon-Palacios stands with her attendants. The club's royalty would ride in the Labor Day parade.

Last Friday, the Carbon County Family Support and Children’s Justice Center received almost $30,000 when the Mexican Club presented the remainder of the group’s holdings in a final gesture of community charity.

"I think it was a fitting end for a group who dedicated themselves to community aid,"said FSCJC director Shelley Wright during the Nov. 21 presentation at the county events center. "I hope they know what their generosity is going to do for the children of this community."

The group, which thrived in Carbon County from 1950 to 1971, is disbanding because the remaining members have decided it is time to close the doors on a memorable run.

The Mexican Club was started in 1950 by Castulo B. Guzman, who was the group’s first president.

Other original members included Dan and Ramona Valdez, who served as the group’s first secretary and treasurer; Ramona Salas, Bill and Betty Madrigal, Bernie Mascarenas and Frank Vega.

"They started the club with the intention of helping those who needed aid in the community,"said Beverly Guzman-Peacock. "They just wanted to make Carbon County a better place and develop an avenue to share Mexican culture with the area."

Guzman-Peacock decided on donating the funds to the justice center, pointing out she felt that is where the money would have the greatest impact within the community.

The club has a colorful history. The members conducted a pageant every year until 1971.

In 1950, Lydia Escandon-Palacios was selected as the group’s first queen. And in 1971, Jo Ann Martinez was selected as the club’s last queen.

In 1965, the club started the Mexican Hour radio broadcast on KOAL, which ran on Saturday from 4 to 5 p.m.

The program was hosted by Guzman, who related the entire broadcast in Spanish.

"I can remember listening every Saturday,"said Guzman-Peacock. "The show was very popular with the whole Spanish-speaking community. The only time it wasn’t broadcast on Saturday was during Mother’s and Father’s Day, when my father would do the show on Sunday to honor them. It was an hour dedicated to Hispanic news and events."

In addition to the radio program, the club took pride in its Labor Day float, which according to past members would win the events competition regularly.

Charity was always at the heart of the group, said Guzman-Peacock.

The members raised money via dances, the club’s pageant, the Mexican Hour sponsors and private donations.

With the funds, the club regularly sponsored Boy Scouts of America troops, students who attended Utah Boys State, baseball teams in the area and families residing in the local community who needed assistance.

The club was based in Helper and members conducted their meetings at the town’s auditorium, which still houses many of the group’s floats and pageant trophies.

The Mexican Club members had their last meeting in 1971 and put the group’s remaining funds into interest bearing bonds.

The club’s money grew during the last several decades, accumulating to the final amount of $29,747.50.

The members donated the full amount to the county’s family and children support center.

The center will be moving into a new building next year, with construction slated to begin in the spring.

Wright has earmarked the donated funds for construction of a crisis nursery that will be called the Castulo B. Guzman room.

The advocacy center will also erect a bench, engrave and dedicate it to the Mexican Club.

Last Friday, Guzman was presented with a nameplate to be placed on the door of the crisis nursery as a token of his service and the club’s generosity to the community.

"I was shocked by their gift,"concluded the center’s director. "It was amazing to receive that amount of support."

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