Programs at the Latino Learning Center of Houston

Carmen Maria Montiel is an award-winning television journalist and the winner of the 1984 Miss Venezuela Pageant. A resident of Houston, Carmen Maria Montiel spends her free time working with local nonprofits, such as the Latino Learning Center. Several programs hosted by the Latino Learning Center are designed to benefit communities in Houston that are disadvantaged.

Senior housing: The Latino Learning Center sponsors two apartment buildings that are available as housing for Houstonites who are elderly or disabled. Despite the rising prices the East End, where the apartments are located, these units are priced for individuals with low incomes.

Adult daycare: The adult daycare program provides a way for older members of the Houston community to socialize in an environment supervised by registered health professionals. Attendees of the adult daycare program are able to participate in planned activities, receive breakfast and lunch, and receive transportation to and from the program.

Technical skills: To foster success in Houston’s communities, the Latino Learning Center offers bilingual, entry-level training in home air-conditioning and refrigeration and in residential electricity. Each course runs 12 weeks, and each student receives a certificate after completing either of the programs.


Virtuosi of Houston for Young Musicians

A graduate of East Tennessee State University, Carmen Maria Montiel began her television career in the 1980s as the host of the Venevision programs “Buenos Dias Venezuela” and celebrity news show “Close Up.” Currently a resident of Houston, Texas, Carmen Maria Montiel has also been involved in many community organizations, serving on the board of director for groups such as Virtuosi of Houston, a chamber orchestra for young people.

The only youth chamber orchestra in the city, Virtuosi of Houston is committed to helping young musicians develop their talent in a supportive pre-professional setting. The season comprises three performances, each preceded by 10 rehearsals. The children are led by two maestros, one conducting and the other offering specific instructions as to fingering techniques, sound, and instrument positioning.

To qualify for the program, children aged 11 to 18 must complete an application and prepare a solo or concert piece for audition. Maestros choose between 40 and 55 musicians each season.

The Latino Learning Center’s ESL Program

Carmen Maria Montiel

Carmen Maria Montiel is a former anchorwoman and on-air personality from Venezuela. Attending school in both the United States and Venezuela, Carmen Maria Montiel is fluent in both Spanish and English. She volunteers her talents with the Latino Learning Center (LLC) in Houston, Texas, and recently chaired a gala for the organization in May of 2015.

The Latino Learning Center is a Houston-based facility where native Spanish speakers can go to pursue mastery of the English language. Its English as a Second Language (ESL) program is designed for members of Houston’s low income community, focusing especially on adult education and elderly services. Through the ESL program, students can learn to speak, read, write, and listen to English comprehensively. In the advanced stages of the program, the LLC instructs students in business terminology and teaches useful business conversation skills.

After completing the class, students receive a certificate to verify their completion. The curriculum costs two payments of $90, and spans a 12-week period.

Paella at Bielina’s

After winning the Miss Venezuela and Miss South America pageants, Carmen Maria Montiel was named second runner-up at the 1984 Miss Universe Pageant. When she returned home, she resumed her budding television career and continued her education. She soon returned to the US to study broadcasting and Spanish at East Tennessee State University, graduating magna cum laude. She embarked upon an award-winning broadcasting career in Texas, where she was an award-winning journalist for Telemundo Houston. Carmen Maria Montiel is an enthusiastic member of Houston’s Venezuelan community, and recently emceed a celebration of the fifth anniversary of Bielina’s Catering.

Located in the Houston suburb of Katy, Bielina’s Catering and Services provides catering services to clients throughout the entire Houston-Sugar Land-Woodlands area. Run by Venezuelan natives Frank Valbuena and Bielitski Prada, Bielina’s caters events at clients’ sites as well as at its own banquet facility. The company provides not only Venezuelan food, but also many fusion, international, and artisanal dishes.

One of Bielina’s specialties is paella, prepared presentation-style at guest tables by Chef Prada. Paella is a traditional Spanish dish whose main ingredient is a delicious saffron rice which is then mixed with a variety of additional ingredients. In addition to a traditional seafood paella featuring lobster, clams, mussels, shrimps, scallops, and squid, Bielina’s serves several other varieties, including the house specialty Paella Prada and a vegetarian paella that features several different peppers, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, peas, and other vegetables. Other paellas on the menu are green paella, which features chicken, pork, Spanish chorizo, clams, and vegetables, and Paella Valenciana, which combines seafood with chicken, Spanish chorizo, and vegetables.

Virtuosi of Houston

Carmen Maria Montiel head shot


Carmen Maria Montiel earned praise from her peers and industry awards for her work as a journalist for the Spanish-language television station Telemundo Houston. Before becoming a professional journalist, she won the Miss Venezuela and Miss South America titles in 1984 and was second runner-up in that year’s Miss Universe Pageant. Carmen Maria Montiel donates a great deal of her time and expertise to a broad range of cultural and philanthropic activities, including the Miss Houston pageant, UNICEF, and Virtuosi of Houston.

A premier young artists chamber orchestra, Virtuosi of Houston was established in 1996 to expand the opportunities for gifted musicians in the 11- to 18-year-old age range to receive professional-level training and participate in meaningful public performances. At the same time, it significantly expanded the repertoire of chamber music available to Houston audiences.

Because Virtuosi of Houston is a chamber orchestra of 50 to 60 musicians (significantly smaller than a symphony orchestra or high school band), its members have the opportunity for more focused instruction and training. The smaller orchestra size also helps the musicians build confidence and leadership, as well as performance skills that might not develop so well in a larger orchestra.

The orchestra performs publicly three times during the season. During the five weeks prior to each concert, there are 10 rehearsals. At each rehearsal, one of the orchestra’s two maestros conducts the music, while the other works with individual musicians, helping them to perfect their technique on the various instruments they play.

Auditions for Virtuosi of Houston are held in the spring and fall of each year. More information about how to become a member, as well as more information about Virtuosi of Houston, is available on its website at

2015 Fashion Show with the Stars

A bilingual television journalist, Carmen María Montiel has served as a news host for the GOP Convention, a producer for WSJK-Channel 2, and a TV host for Venevision, Complicidades. She spent two years on the board of directors for the Institute of Hispanic Culture. Carmen María Montiel has also assisted with numerous charitable fundraising events.

Recently, Carmen María Montiel served as chairperson of the Fashion Show with the Stars, hosted by the Latino Learning Center. The fashion show featured Ms. Ximena Navarrete who earned the title of Miss Universe in 2010, performances from Alex Syntek and Martha Sanchez, and fashions from LUCHO Boutique and Fifty Shades of Blue, Red & Yellow. Designs from Mexican fashion designer Benito Santos also appeared.

The Fashion Show with the Stars took place on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015, at the Wortham Center in Houston, Texas. The event, an annual tradition, funds services to seniors and people with disabilities throughout the area, as well as various programs for vocational training and education.

Fund-Raising Events Support Latino Learning Center’s Housing Programs

Carmen Maria Montiel

Carmen Maria Montiel, who enjoyed a successful career as an award-winning bilingual television journalist, currently focuses her efforts on a wide range of philanthropic endeavors. Recently, Carmen Maria Montiel has led a number of events, such as the 2015 Night with the Stars Gala, for the Latino Learning Center in Houston.

These fund-raising events benefit seniors and citizens with disabilities by supporting the center’s various programs and services, including its housing initiatives. In response to a lack of affordable housing for seniors and adults with disabilities, the Latino Learning Center founded two communities, the Eastwood John Goldberg Apartments and the South Houston Vista Apartments.

The Eastwood John Goldberg Apartments were established in 2000 when seniors were rapidly being displaced due to rising property values in the East End. Comprised of 65 units, the senior housing community was completely filled within a week of opening and there remains a one-year waiting list. The housing project was formed through a $236,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank and a $3.6 million grant from the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

The South Houston Vista Apartments are located in a serene area near the City of South Houston, with the community’s 46 units nestled in a gated community. With a total of 22 one-bedroom units and 14 efficiencies, the apartments spread across one-story buildings that contain six to eight units.