The stories of two immigrants in Holyoke, Massachusetts were recognized Thursday as part of national Immigrant Heritage Month.
Vitek Kruta, who was born in the former Czechoslovaki, traveled the world for 30 years before finding a home in Holyoke and establishing a fine art and antiques restoration business. He was saluted for his work to restore some of the city’s historic monuments in a ceremony at the Wistariahurst Museum.
"It is a humbling experience because there are many many other immigrants who do fantastic things," said Kruta.
Laura Restrepo was recognized for her inspirational story. She spoke no English when she immigrated to Holyoke from Columbia at age 13. Last month, she graduated with high honors from Holyoke Community College and will continue her studies at Mount Holyoke College.
State Rep. Aaron Vega, whose father immigrated to Holyoke from Ecuador, noted that the local salute to immigrants is helpful in countering some of the national political rhetoric that seeks to put immigrants in a bad light.