Being passionate about helping the homeless, raising money for scholarships and finding the time to share Spanish culture with the community are reasons why Carlos Rivero of Don Quijote Restaurant & Imports is a Valpo Life in the Spotlight.
Carlos is making a difference when it comes to helping the homeless. He has inspired local students [Valparaiso High School Spanish Club] to participate as well.
“I got involved in helping the homeless when I met some people that told me of the need to help the homeless,” Rivero said. “Right away I got the kids involved at the high school and even now they are the main instrument; they are the busy bees by doing things like selling tickets for the benefit to help raise money for Housing Opportunities. The benefit this year will be on November 11.”
“I tell the kids it is very important to get involved,” Rivero continued. “I love to see their excitement when they come back and say ‘look what I received from this person or this business and how much.’ They get excited about how their efforts make a difference. To see their enthusiasm is a beautiful thing.”
“It’s like there is no off button,” Elena Jambrina, Rivero’s business partner, said of Carlos. “He is always on the go; he is always doing something and it inspires you to keep going yourself. He keeps on giving and doing things to benefit others and you want to give yourself.”
“Helping the homeless is closest to his heart but that is in conjunction with the kids in Spanish Club. The kids help sell tickets and acquire things for silent auctions; he gets the kids involved.”
“We have collaborated with many entities to do benefits and we have been able to help many organizations and sometimes private as well,” she said.
With the motto: “Enriching lives beyond boarders”, the Don Quijote Foundation is also providing scholarships for local high school students “to help students travel, take a class or a workshop to help learn the culture and language in a Spanish-speaking community,” Kaye Frataccia, President of the Board of Directors for the Don Quijote Foundation, explained.
A scholarship for Spanish Club students is just one more thing that Rivero is passionate about.
“Of all the things we can do my heart is to benefit the homeless and young people,” Rivero said. “So many kids need us, and there is a need for the kids to get something from us. I am fortunate that I have worked with those young people. I saw the need and the kids deserve it. I am so thankful to have partnered with so many great people to help young people make their dreams come true.”
Besides finding time to benefit Housing Opportunities and raise money for the Don Quijote Foundation, Carlos invites Soul and Duende, a Flamenco dance group, to the restaurant a few times a year to enrich Spanish students from local high school as well as share his culture with the community.
“Each dance catches our sentiment in Spain. Each song tells you something, whether it is about love or sadness, it is telling you something,” Rivero said. “There is a tremendous amount of people coming to this country from other countries. I am from another country, I come from Spain, but I live here. I have the best of both worlds; I can live here and share my culture. I have been doing this for over 20 years and it is one of the most fulfilling things, to be able to share something that you love with other people.”
With all that Carlos Rivero is passionate about, it is important to keep in mind that he is a driven business owner in addition to reaching out to make a difference in the community.
Guests come from all over to dine on the cuisine featured at Don Quijote.
“I have eaten all over this country in many restaurants from Chicago to Miami and never before or since have I been able to eat squid served in its own ink,” one guest, Oscar Cano of Indianapolis said. “I come here when I am in town because I haven’t found it anywhere else. From the first time I was served this dish it was wonderful.”
Two of Carlos’s favorite long time guests would be Stephanie Truitt and her daughter 12 year old Sophia. They have been dining at Don Quijote since before Sophia was born.
“We love supporting Don Quijote and Carlos because of all that Carlos does for the community, especially the homeless,” Stephanie Truitt said.
If you would like to help aid the homeless and dine on some delicious cuisine, join Carlos at Don Quijote on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 from Noon to 5:00 p.m. where proceeds go to Housing Opportunities. This will give you the chance to meet Carlos Rivero, A Valpo Life in the Spotlight.