Latino Town Hall Awards honor exemplary citizens

October 05, 2007
Santa Paula News

The 11th Annual Latino Town Hall 2007 Awards Dinner honored those who “exemplify the principals of volunteerism, service, advocacy and collaboration,” according to Santa Paula City Councilman and LTH President Dr. Gabino Aguirre.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe 11th Annual Latino Town Hall 2007 Awards Dinner honored those who “exemplify the principals of volunteerism, service, advocacy and collaboration,” according to Santa Paula City Councilman and LTH President Dr. Gabino Aguirre. The gala celebration, which featured acclaimed educator and activist Sal Castro as the keynote speaker, was held September 14 at the Community Center with hundreds of people in attendance.Honored were Andrea Tinajero in the Youth category, Realtor Anita Pulido for Community Service, Raymundo “Pulga” Pinedo for Cultural Arts, Sean Miller for Education, Lourdes Gonzalez (Geoghegan) Campbell & Associates for Business, and Tony Perez, who received the prestigious Ray Garcia Humanitarian Award named in memory of the LTH co-founder.“Familia Moraza” strolled the brightly decorated center offering traditional music for the crowd, which included Vice Mayor John Procter, Supervisor Kathy Long and Planning Commissioner Jesse Ornelas, as well as Santa Paula Union High and Santa Paula Elementary School District trustees and officials, among others.Aguirre offered opening remarks, noting that “Santa Paula is a corner of the garden unique unto itself,” and stressing that LTH is “here to take care of the whole community... it might be 70 percent Spanish surname, but it’s 100 percent Santa Paulan. Anything good for us is good for the community overall.”Former LTH President and co-founder Bob Borrego presented the Youth Award to Tinajero, noting that the recognition “goes to a person who inspires others and serves as a role model.” Tinajero, a 16-year-old Santa Paula resident taking honors classes at Ventura High School, garnered wide recognition when she offered her talents as a trumpeter for the 1st Memorial Honors Detail, which offers Ventura veterans’ memorial services.Learning that the detail was using pre-recorded music, Tinajero, a Ventura County Young Marine and aspiring pilot, offered her services to the detail. Borrego noted that Tinajero is a “truly remarkable young lady” and “true patriot” whose future will truly be successful, including her quest to ensure veteran rights.SPESD President Ofelia de la Torre said “Whatever the need, Anita Pulido is there,” donating time, money and her enthusiastic support for whatever the community requires to be more successful, the basis of her Community Services Award. A Santa Paula resident since she was a child, Pulido had a varied professional career but always remained active in a variety of causes and organizations, ranging from church to charity, entertainment to public safety. Pulido also was the founder of numerous programs tackling job training and education.Pulido has been the recipient of many honors, including Realtor of the Year, We-Tip Volunteer of the Year, Women of History, and Woman of Distinction, and was lauded as the Grand Marshal of the Santa Paula Optimist Club Christmas Parade. “Every day in every way, Anita provides service to the Santa Paula community” and always from her heart, said de la Torre.Cultural Arts “define and enrich lives,” said SPESD Trustee Tony Perez, who presented the award to Pinedo, who considers the cultural arts a way to encircle all in the human family. A Latino activist as a SPHS student, Pinedo returned as a teacher’s aide 22 years ago.He has been active with MECHA, both in high school and at UCSB, La Raza Libre, and as a volunteer tutor at La Casa de la Raza. Later, while a student in Fresno, his interest in arts encompassed silk-screening and radio production. His activism continued, and as a supporter of the United Farm Workers he helped provide security for its leader, Cesar Chavez.Perez noted that “Ray has taken it upon himself to make cultural arts a proud priority,” with his involvement with the Santa Paula Cultural Center, Flor y Canto and De Colores, of which he is a founding volunteer. A member of the famed Aztec dance troupe “Nahu Ollin,” Pinedo remains “committed to his community and sees himself continuing with this unfinished project” of fostering understanding and brotherhood through shared cultural arts while inspiring youth, Perez noted.
“Co-Co” Aguirre, herself an acclaimed educator, presented the Education Award to Miller, a “Master Teacher who brings out the best in all of his students.” Miller has dedicated his life to providing a quality education to 4th grade McKevett School students for a decade... he began teaching 14 years ago.He considers teaching to be an art, and his greatest joy comes when he sees children in the playground or out on the street acting out or applying lessons and values he taught in his lively classroom. “A consummate educator,” Aguirre said that Miller, who has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a bilingual education credential, is enrolled at the CSUN Masters Program.He has also studied in Mexico, experiences considered “truly valuable to his teaching.” Miller credits his parents, wife Magna (also a teacher) and three sons for his accomplishments, including his passion for teaching and learning.Described as “the Voice of Santa Paula,” Gonzalez-Geoghegan was honored with the Business Award for her translation and interpreting services that fostered greater participation in city government by the city’s Latino population, said former Vice Mayor Laura Flores Espinosa. “We’re very fortunate” to have “this successful business person, someone of integrity” and generous spirit translating City Council and other meetings, noted Espinosa.Lourdes Gonzalez-Campbell & Associates was founded by Lourdes 20 years ago, and she has expanded the company to include assignments from simultaneous interpreting in five Latin American countries for the Pope to translation of university neurological studies. But her favorite project is interpreter for Santa Paula Council meetings that are televised live and later rebroadcast, allowing all residents knowledge of city government. She has also interpreted at Santa Paula-based workshops and candidate forums, among other educational endeavors.Currently vice president of the California Courts Interpreters Association, Gonzalez-Geoghegan was also instrumental in establishing the first interpreting degree program at Cal State Long Beach. Espinosa noted that Gonzalez-Geoghegan has also volunteered on behalf of farmworkers, cancer patients and veterans, efforts “she finds as rewarding and educational as her paid business clients,” believing that those she encounters through different assignments, their stories and opinions, are the most interesting aspect of her career.Ray Garcia Humanitarian Award recipient Perez “is an example of those who volunteer, who give all and not expect anything back,” noted Dr. Gabino Aguirre, who presented the honor. “He exemplifies the values of community service, integrity and advocacy.”A lifetime city resident, Perez is a third term SPESD Trustee and a consistent advocate for all students, especially for Latino and non-English speaking children. His broad community service includes the Knights of Columbus, T-Ball and baseball leagues, American Diabetes Association, Kiwanis Citrus Festival, and church, among others.Perez is also active as a speaker for the Ventura County Youth Education Motivation Program, encouraging middle school students to stick with their studies and attend college. Aguirre noted that Perez’s community service stems from his belief that he has benefited from the interest of others, their time, contributions and motivation.Aguirre quoted Perez’s words that “ ‘...they believed in me, and took me under their wing and encouraged me to be the best that I could be. So to honor them and their legacy of giving, I feel I should do whatever I can to help others who are in need.’ ““I am blessed to be his friend,” noted Aguirre.Recipients of the 11th Annual Latino Town Hall Awards also received special proclamations presented by Vice Mayor Procter and Supervisor Long on behalf of the city and the county, among others.

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