MALDEN — The numbers are eye-opening.
The fastest-growing segment of the Bay State population for the second consecutive decade is Hispanic.
More than 780,000 Massachusetts residents fit that category, accounting for 11.5 percent of the state’s residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In an effort to promote cultural awareness and community involvement among those minority communities in Greater Boston, the North Shore Hispanic Association (NSHA) was founded in 2016 by community leaders Gladys Rivera Rogers, a former Malden School Committee member, Christina Villafranca, Karen Colon Hayes, Human Services Director for the city, Porfirio De Las Nieves, who is affiliated with the Spanish-language newspaper El Mundo and a Dominican Republic native, and Marguerita Restrepo, an editor and a native of Colombia.
The group has held two North Shore Hispanic Association Festivals in the past two years.
“We have gotten a tremendous response for each of them, from local residents and those across the region,” said Rogers, NSHA president.
The nonprofit is planning its inaugural fundraising event, which will recognize outstanding Hispanic Americans. A dinner is planned for Thursday, Feb. 22 at the Malden Senior Center from 6 to 8 p.m. where five people will be honored.
The honorees include Guillermo Samuel Hamlin, a community activist, Gerardo Lora and Hilda Torreco-owners of My Little Best Friends day care center, and Elias and Juana Interiano, co-owners of El Potro Mexican Bar and Grill.
“It is a great group of honorees,” Rogers said. “They are very good representatives of the Hispanic community. We wanted to hold this dinner to introduce these fine representatives to everyone, as well as further our mission with the fundraising aspect of the evening.”