Cinco De Mayo celebration a funfilled day

May 09, 2000
Santa Paula News

Marisela Ortiz and Melissa Hernandez entertained the large crowd at the Community Center.

Anthony Medrano not only received the first ever Elizabeth Blanchard Youth Award but was honored by its presentation by the woman herself at the Santa Paula Family Resource Center's Cinco De Mayo Celebration held May 5th at the Community Center. It was a night for youth and a “Wonderful turnout for the community,” said SPFRC Executive Director Martine Hernandez. “A dream of mine has been manifested here tonight.”“The center helps people live life to the fullest,” with a unique, holistic approach to counseling for the whole family, said SPFRC Advisory Board Chairwoman Cyndy Zakrajshek-Smith.The event, co-sponsored by the Soroptimist International of Santa Paula, Santa Paula Police Officers Association and Kmart, was attended by Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa; Vice Mayor Don Johnson stopped by to enjoy the dancers from the Barbara Webster Folklorico Group as well as the acclaimed Dance Group Folklorico Tepeyac who wowed the crowd seated at tables decorated in Cinco De Mayo green, white and red balloons for the fiesta.Tony Perez, a Santa Paula Elementary School District trustee, was the master of ceremonies for the evening, which included honoring Medrano with the Elizabeth Blanchard Youth Award after an address by nationally known youth activist Father Gregory Boyle of Los Angeles.The Elizabeth Blanchard Youth Award was created in the Santa Paula resident’s honor when she was the subject of the Interface Children Family Services Tribute Dinner in 1999. The award will provide an annual youth citizenship monetary award of $250 to a river valley “at-risk” student who has exhibited excellence in scholarship, community service and citizenship.Blanchard's five decades of community service include being a member of the Juvenile Justice Commission, as well as the Santa Paula High and Elementary School districts boards of trustees and Blanchard Community Library Board of Directors.
“It's an honor this award was created in my name,” she noted. “But, we cannot have enough of encouraging and rewarding our young people rising to be leaders. And nothing can make you happier than to put a person on the road to a happier life.”Blanchard said Medrano attended local schools and is now a sophomore at Renaissance High School: “Life has not been an easy path for him,” but he fought off all problems and temptations to change his life for the better.Medrano accepted his award noting the support, encouragement and influence of his extended family. “I could not have done it without you. . .I also thank the Santa Paula Family Resource Center for their support and motivation that led me to my success,” including those he has worked closely with. “They make me believe I can be anything if I put my mind to it. . .”The raffle was overseen by Carl and Cathy Barringer: he noted that the SPFRC and its partners are “All working together to help children find their way.”

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