Dolly Arredondo – the daughter of a cook, and later the stepdaughter of one of the first Latino police officers in Fresno – had many sleepless nights after being told she was being honored as Mother of the Year from the Latino cultural arts center she has volunteered with for more than 20 years.
“You reflect and you wonder: Was I a good mother?”
“All those years you struggle with your children, you made mistakes and I hope that didn’t reflect on your children,” Arredondo said Sunday at Arte Américas’ Mother’s Day celebration in Plaza Paz. “But, I look out and see wonderful, considerate, kind and generous children. That makes me feel like maybe I was a good mother.”
The 86-year-old Fresno native began as a volunteer at the Latino cultural center’s La Tiendita, and later devoted more time once she retired from her job working in the office of an optometrist.
“I promised Lilia (Chávez, then the center’s director and currently the acting director) that when I retired that I would come and volunteer,” said Arredondo. “As soon as I did, she jumped at me and told me I had to come and help here.”
Arredondo took a three-year break from Arte Américas when her husband got sick. Dave Arredondo, who met Dolly at a dance at the Rainbow Ballroom, died three years ago. They were married for 63 years.
Arredondo – who attended Fresno City College, San Joaquín Memorial, St. Alphonsus Elemetnary and Lincoln Elementary – went back to Arte Américas.
“I was received with open arms and made to feel like I never left. I still feel that way. I am at home.”
Arredondo worked in the medical field for more than four decades, and spent numerous evenings and weekends helping the Mexican American Political Association (in 1960) and later helping establish the League of Mexican American Women (in 1973). She served as league president in 1978, 1979 and 1983.
Arredondo has served on numerous boards, and has been recognized by politicians like Gov. Gray Davis, Congressman Cal Dooley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“She is a beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother,” said Arte Américas board chairwoman Vivian Velasco Paz about Arrendondo. “She has been such a strong presence at Arte Américas.”
Arrendondo received a pendant crafted by Valley artist Richard Arenas that depicts an Adelita from the Mexican Revolutionary War.
The traditional Mother’s Day celebration included a marimba and Mariachi Alas de Plata, lunch, champagne, and, a silent auction.
Los Ángeles designer Eruvey Tapia, whose fashions were spotlighted in last year’s Catrinas & Couture fundraiser, donated a dress that had been worn by Mexican entertainer Olga Breeskin and later re-designed for use by singer Graciela Beltrán.
The center’s Caminos exhibit was open.
“I you haven’t seen ‘Caminos,’ I urge you strongly to come and see this exhibit,” said Arredondo. “It gives you so much pride to see how much we have contributed to this valley. Your great-grandparents, the farmworkers, our beautiful music and our culture elected our first Latino officials. And this gives you a sense of pride.”
The exhibit has been continued through August.
Dr. Alex Saragoza will discuss the progress and backlash the Latino community experienced in the 1980s and 1990s at 2 p.m. on Sunday (May 19).