Rene Bue speaks up for local Latino community
Family: Children, Liz Hinkel, 27, and Jamie Rutledge, 23. Three grandchildren ages 5, 2 and 1.
Occupation: Hedberg Public Library bilingual outreach coordinator, freelance interpreter.
JANESVILLE When Rene Bue was 9 years old, she wanted a Spanish dictionary for Christmas.
She received a children's Spanish dictionary with pictures. She then taught herself some basic vocabulary.
She didn't know it at the time, but her unusual request for the Spanish dictionary was an early sign of what was to come.
"Something was telling me that I loved language. I had no contact with Spanish speakers," Bue said. "I don't know what it was other than maybe destiny telling me at that young age that this was what you're going to do."
Years later, Bue, 49, is president of the Latino Service Providers Coalition and chairwoman of the Diversity Action Team of Rock County. She helps Latinos with language barriers connect with local services and advocates for diversity in Rock County.
"I am honored to be the voice of the people who have no voice. I am proud to fight for those who are not able to fight for themselves," Bue said.
Bue was born in Black River Falls and moved to Janesville as a young girl.
She graduated from Parker High School and later lived in Florida, Kentucky, California, Virginia and the Virgin Islands. She returned to Janesville in 1986.
At age 30, Bue attended UW-Rock County and later graduated from UW-Madison with a bachelor's degree in psychology and Latin American and Iberian studies. She learned Spanish in college and fell in love with Latin American culture.
Bue later began interpreting locally while working other jobs at restaurants and cell phone companies.
Her relationship with the Latino community helped her become the bilingual outreach coordinator in 2007 at Hedberg Public Library. Her job includes creating multicultural programming, handling the Spanish collection and organizing events such as the multicultural fair.
Bue later became president of the Latino Service Providers Coalition. The coalition refers Spanish-speaking families to services they need and tries to bridge the gap between Latinos and the community.
For example, the coalition helps Latinos change errors on birth certificates because of mistakes in their names. It helps families find Spanish-speaking attorneys, doctors or bankers.
The coalition might help a Latino fill out an application for an apartment. It also has helped a homeless Spanish speaker.
Bue also helps the Diversity Action Team of Rock County. She works to ensure that Rock County is welcoming to other cultures. The team does outreach in the community and helps other groups or businesses establish diversity policies.
"Rock County is a very diverse county, more diverse than a lot of people realize," Bue said. "How do I see myself in everything I do? I see myself as a unifier. I bring people—and I bring groups—together."
Bryan McCormick, library director, said Bue has a talent for connecting with the community and bringing people together. He said she is known statewide for her library multicultural programs.
"She definitely has so much energy and willpower and desire to make Janesville a better community," McCormick said. "I think that really drives her."
Bue wants to continue making Rock County a welcoming place.
"I do not have a lot of financial wealth, but what I do have is something far more important and valuable," Bue said.
"I have a life that is rich with love of family and friends, the respect of my community and the honor to serve the universe by doing the work I do to make my corner of the world a better place to live for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, the language they speak, their religious beliefs, their political view or their sexual orientation."