#Pride58 is a campaign I am launching to highlight the positive contributions happening every day in our community, the 58th Assembly District.
I will honor a deserving individual, organization, or business each Sunday throughout the year with the "#Pride58” Award, which recognizes service and dedication to the betterment of the community.
If you know of an inspiring person, organization or business who has served their community with distinction, I want to know about them. Please join me by submitting your nominees for consideration. Nominees will be accepted year round and evaluated on an ongoing basis.
Daisy Gomez (Montebello)
October 8, 2015
Daisy Gomez lives in the City of Montebello and is the owner of Llama Violeta Outlet store. At a young age she has already demonstrated not only personal success, but also a compassionate heart. At the age of 25 and despite the tough economic conditions, Daisy decided to open her own business. After just one year in business, the Llama Violeta Outlet is succeeding against the odds, proving that hard work and determination can pay off. Daisy is also very community oriented. Her small business is near the Montebello Riverbed, so she encounters many homeless people. Showing her kind heart and extraordinary generosity, Daisy often makes her surplus sweaters and blankets available to the homeless. Daisy not only contributes to the economy of Montebello, but looks out for the less fortunate in her community.
Congratulations Daisy Gomez on your success as a business person and thank you for your big heart and the compassion you show for others every day.
Nancy Valencia (Commerce)
October 4, 2015
Nancy Valencia grew up in the City of Commerce and has a long history of community service. Growing up in Commerce she played sports and has participated in dance since age 3. As Nancy grew older, she volunteered her time as a dance instructor and then earned her way up to becoming an advisor for the dance team. She has always had a passion for dance and by sharing her expertise she is giving back to the community where she received so much. Given Nancy's experience she could very easily work for a professional team or pursue her own dance business, but instead she has chosen to invest in her community. Nancy works at the City of Commerce Parks and Recreation Department teaching dance to children. Nancy is truly a classic example of someone paying it forward. From a preschool dancer, to the Queen of the City of Commerce, to today, 18 years later, she continues to encourage youth to be positive and participate in their community. Nancy and her family are firmly settled into their community and love the City of Commerce where they plan to stay. Thank you Nancy for your loyalty and the inspiration that you bring every day to the young people of Commerce.
Elaine Burdick (Cerritos)
September 27, 2015
Over many years, Elaine Burdick has dedicated countless hours to her duties as a teacher and as Curriculum Director for grades K thru 12, with the ABC School District. Upon her retirement from the school district, Elaine did not slow down; she became a highly valued volunteer for the Artesia Historical Society. Through her leadership, a program of 3rd grade student tours began, with Elaine coordinating the schools, buses, and docents. Excited students from surrounding cities are now coming to the Artesia Historical Museum to learn about the early life in Artesia, and how Artesia was once a very large community encompassing, Dairy Valley, Hawaiian Gardens, parts of Bellflower, Buena Park, Lakewood and Norwalk. Because of Elaine’s many efforts, over the past 7 years approximately 7,000 students have come through the museum and the Old Station #30 Fire Station. Elaine has built a wonderful reputation as someone who puts children first and today is highly respected by the ABC School District, the Artesia Historical Society and by so many throughout her community. Elaine is a prime example of someone who gives back so much to their community and many people feel blessed to have her in their lives and in the lives of their children. She a special person, with a big heart and through her commitment fuels the hopes and dreams of the many children she touches every day.
Clothes The Deal (Downey)
September 20, 2015
Clothes The Deal, (www.clothesthedeal.org) a non-profit organization, assists low income adults and at risk youth by providing them with business attire for job interviews and work etiquette workshops to assist in obtaining employment.
Operating out of Downey, CTD serves the local communities including Bell, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Paramount, and South Gate. Two of CTD’s employees Katherine Ruckman and Lupita Villegas were born and raised in Downey. Both Katherine and Lupita find CTD’s work fulfilling, and enjoy helping client’s find the right outfit. Since 1995, because of Clothes The Deal efforts, 52,000 people have secured employment.
Through corporate clothing drives and donations directly from manufacturers and retailers, CTD collects approximately 34,000 ready-to-wear pieces of clothing in a year. In 2014 more than 90 organizations and government agencies were served, providing clothing to 4,558 jobseekers. CTD also offers a clothing boutique in the City of Downey, which enables jobseekers to try on and select their perfect interview outfit.
Currently in its 20th year of service, Clothes The Deal continues to make a positive impact in our communities by providing services for jobseekers that have proven to boost their self-esteem and assist them in obtaining employment. Overall, the organization provides an “enriching experience” for their clients and clothing donors, who see the benefit of the donations they make.
Thank you CTD, the work and what you do to uplift people is greatly appreciated. The simple gift of clothing is the helping hand that is giving people hope and support for a brighter future.
Christine Saavedra (Pico Rivera)
September 13, 2015
Christine grew up in South Gate and moved to Pico Rivera in 1997 after she graduated from Bellflower High School. She is a mother of two boys 8 and 9 years old. They both attend Birney Elementary. She also has two goddaughters, one at The Steam Academy at Burke and one at El Rancho High School. Her sister, mother and brother live in Pico Rivera.
Christine started working for SA Recycling located in Pico Rivera in 2001, became involved with the Chamber of Commerce in 2014 and has been an active participant in Chamber events, such as mixers and business expos.
At the suggestion of her son, Christine began volunteering at Birney Elementary in 2011 and has been heavily involved as a volunteer for the school and the district. Always one to lend a hand, Christine as a mom, is the current president of the Birney Dad’s Club. The Dad’s Club started as an offshoot of the original PTA and has been around since the early 1950’s. The group participates in “Santa Runs” with local fire stations, where they ride along with Santa and on the fire truck delivering gifts, courtesy of the Dad’s Club, to students with special needs. They also raise money with food truck nights and by selling fireworks to raise funds for the Birney Alumni scholarship fund. Last year Christine presented $6,000 in scholarships to deserving students at the El Rancho Awards night.
Christine is driven by her children. She says “My children give me the best feedback. They like seeing me at their school. They like that other teacher’s know me. Because my son is in special education, I try to make myself as approachable and helpful to his teachers as possible and volunteering makes that possible.”
On a district level, as a member of the District Advisory Council, Christine knows firsthand what’s going on and what direction the district is moving in. She uses Facebook and Twitter to reach out to parents and families to keep them aware of available resources and activities occurring in the community.
Thank you Christine for all that you do and for what you mean to families in Pico Rivera.
You started as a mother working to do the best for your own children and now you have become a valued advocate for all children. You do everything possible to improve their lives and everyday make your community a better place.
Robert Lopez (Montebello)
September 6, 2015
Robert Lopez is an inspiration to everyone in our neighborhood and a role model for the City of Montebello. Robert Lopez’s friend, De Anne Susino, lives half a block away from him on Bluff Road which is adjacent to the riverbed and has a fence and strip of land that runs parallel to the street. Weeds grow, and trash accumulates. According to de Anne, thanks to Robert, the neighborhood barely notices the mess. Each Saturday morning, Robert walks along Bluff Road all the way to Washington Blvd., an entire block, and picks up trash. In addition, he is often seen pushing his lawnmower down the strip to make sure weeds don’t accumulate.
Neighbor De Anne Susino summed Robert up in these words, “I’ve lived on Bluff Road most of my life, and I can honestly say, Robert Lopez is the only person I have ever seen who cares enough about our neighborhood to singlehandedly keep the land strip clear of trash and free of weeds. He is a great example to all of us.”
Robert, as you see, your persistence in nurturing your small corner of the earth is greatly appreciated. It shows that one person with a lawn mower and some pride in his community is making his neighborhood a better place and is a great example to all of us on the importance of serving others.
Sandra Núñez (Bell Gardens)
August 30, 2015
Sandra was raised in Bell Gardens and comes from a tight knit family who supported her dream to be successful and be able to give back to the community. While Sandra was a young adult attending college, her sister Jeannette, whom at the time was attending Cal State Dominguez Hills and was diagnosed with cancer. Two months away from graduating cancer took her life. This personal tragedy inspired Sandra to pursue her dream of higher education in remembrance of her sister. Her goal was to one day go back to her community, Bell Gardens, a place that had given her and her family so much. Completing college and aspiring to work in a place where she could honor her sister and motivate students and parents, Sandra earned a position with ICES Education. ICES Education is one of California’s longest-established providers of After School and Out-of-School learning programs. She has now become the Site Director for the after school program at Garfield Elementary in Bell Gardens. In that role, Sandra organizes music, dance, and sports programs for the students. Her staff also helps out by teaching study skills and assisting students with their homework. Going the extra mile for her students, Sandra aggressively raises money to be able to take the students on field trips throughout the year. In a very short time, Sandra has done so much for her students. She strongly represents the passion and pride that all educators should possess.
Thank you Sandra for coming back home and serving your community. Every day, you teach and inspire young people to excel and to become be better students and better people. You are making a difference and Bell Gardens is a better place because of your commitment.
Melissa Toney (Cerritos)
August 23, 2015
Melissa is a high energy role model for children living in the city of Cerritos. She acts as the Wittman Elementary School PTA president and has been the chair for the schools social media program and the yearbook. She is also a valued substitute teacher for the ABC School District. Outside of the school activities, Melissa has been, since 2008, an American Youth Soccer Organization coach since 2008 both girls and boy teams. For the last two years she has also been the Administrator for girls/boys teams under 8 years old and even makes time to be a soccer referee. All of this would be more than enough for most people, but Melissa isn’t most people! She is tireless and continues to contribute to her community by setting up her Neighborhood Halloween event, the 4th of July Bike Parade, Mother’s Day Flower Distribution and tops it off by volunteering with Girl Scout Troop 5233.
Melissa, you are an incredible role model for our boys and girls. Your commitment and energy to succeed is contagious. Thank you for being there and stepping up for Cerritos and for our future – the children, whose lives you touch every day!
Barbara Applebury (Artesia)
August 16, 2015
Barbara Jean Frampton Applebury was born in Artesia in 1938. Her parent’s Harvey and Wilma Frampton, owned and operated Artesia Ice Service until Harvey’s death in 1977. Barbara attended the Norwalk school system and graduated from Excelsior High School. Barbara has lived in Artesia since 1961 and continues to live in the same home where she raised her family. Barbara retired from Cerritos College after 22 years and today spends time as a volunteer at the Cerritos- Artesia United Methodist Church, where she has been a member since 1975. Always serving others, Barbara uses her talents, every year, to hand make lap quilts for the residents of Winsor Palms in Artesia. Dedicated to her city Barbara is the former City of Artesia Beautification and Maintenance Commissioner and is a current trustee for the Artesia Cemetery, where she coordinates their annual Memorial Day Celebration.
She is also the current Vice-President of the Artesia Historical Society, where she organizes all activities to inform surrounding cities about the wonders of the City of Artesia. During the school year, Barbara oversees twice a week Museum tours for local students. And to make sure that Artesia’s history stays alive for all of the community, Barbara directs the Annual Artesia Historical Gala, a major fundraiser for the museum.
Thank you Barbara for your hard work and your dedication to the people of Artesia and to those in surrounding communities. Your talents and your heart are leaving a lasting impression on so many and making your community a better place to live.
Barney Santos (Montebello)
August 9, 2015
Barney Santos was born and raised in the City of Downey, For over 15 years Barney, his wife and his dog live in the City of Montebello. Barney is one to give his time and 100% effort in helping others, while expecting nothing in return. He has spent many hours for free, consulting with the Stay Gallery, an arts non-profit in the City of Downey. As a Marketing Manager at Unilever, business is in his blood. Through the Downey High School Entrepreneurship program, Barney has acted as an advisor and mentor to many deserving young people. Every year Barney is asked to speak at Transform LA, an event for high school students to understand how to be a business owners, through the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
He is currently serving on the non-profit board for the Entrepreneurial Collegiate Consulting Organization at Cal State Los Angeles, that encourages students to launch their own businesses while in college. Additionally, over the last 4 years at the school,
Barney has taught classes, mentored student entrepreneurs, and helped students looking for career opportunities.
Recently, he was appointed the interim director for Latino Startup Alliance that focuses on helping Latinas and Latinos connect with emerging tech businesses and he is constantly volunteering his free time to advise, mentor and train these budding entrepreneurs.
As you can see, Barney has a talent for inspiring and empowering young people to leverage their creativity, courage and critical thinking, to build companies and create their own destiny. Barney feels a sense of responsibility to use his skills to give back to his community, where he and his wife have made roots and will raise their family. He is touching the lives of others, one by one, and providing hope and opportunity for a bright future.
Karina Gonzalez (Downey)
August 2, 2015
Karina Gonzalez is a 2015 graduate from Downey High School and already is an exceptional young leader. Since sixth grade she has been involved in Kiwanis student leadership programs. In her final year of high school Karina held the position of Diamond Division Lieutenant Governor which entails overseeing 7 high school KIWIN'S clubs and working with presidents to create community service projects.
She has performed over 2,000 hours of community service, and according to her high school KWIN Club Advisor, Alexander Gaytan, “In the time that I have known her, Karina is by far the best student leader I have ever had the privilege to work with.”
This school year, Karina along with a committee of student leaders created a service project to feed thousands of children in the Philippines who were affected by Typhoon Yolanda. While most teens were out enjoying their summer vacation, Karina and close friend Liz were working tirelessly to find a way to help the children of the Philippines.
Under her leadership, the KIWIN'S clubs raised over $8,000.00 and packaged more than 25,000 meals to be sent to the affected areas in the Philippines. Along with those meals the KIWIN'S worked with local Philippines officials to help purchase and deliver thousands of tsinelas (sandals) for elementary school children. Not only that, Karina also rallied her KIWIN'S to send school supplies and hundreds of books with the help of the Molina foundation.
In the words of her advisor, Alexander Gaytan, “Through Karina's leadership and sacrifice, many lives were changed in the Philippines and students here at home were also transformed into caring and compassionate people.”
Congratulations Karina, you give hope to others and you are an inspiration to your peers and your community. You are a shining example how one person can change the world.
Richard Jarman (Bell Gardens)
July 26, 2015
Mr. Richard Jarman is true community leader, working as part of the Bell Gardens Faith Based Council and the Bell Gardens Police Department to address crime prevention and coordinated youth activities in the city.
Through his dedication to TouchPoint Church, Richard has led in partnering with the Department of Children and Family Services to provide, food, clothing and beds for needy families and children in foster care. In addition, a visitor center has been established for these families, where they can enjoy family fun in a safe environment.
He also coordinates the church’s monthly homeless feedings, on the last Tuesday of each month – a ministry that is carried out by a dedicated group of men at the church.
Richard also leads his church to hold regular scheduled clothing giveaways so that needy people in the community can have access to good, gently used clothing.
To give people in his community free access to computer services and the internet, for homework and job searches, Richard delivered. He went to work with the Southeast Community Development Corporation to coordinate and establish a computer lab at the church.
Bringing a day joy to the children and families of Bell Gardens, each year. Richard oversees the planning and execution of the city’s annual Halloween Festival. Over 500 children and parents come out to eat, play games and win prizes—and all free to the community.
Richard Jarman has been a wonderful leader & volunteer for many years. His spirit of service and generosity is at work every day, affecting the lives of so many in need. He is a man of action, a role model to many and someone proud to give his best to the people of Bell Gardens.
Mala Malani (Artesia)
July 19, 2015
Mala Malani is a successful business woman who has been active in the Indian community for many years. Thirty two years ago, Mala was the first Indian woman to start a clothing boutique on Pioneer Blvd. and has been instrumental in the creation of the now famous Little India in Artesia. Mala is the owner of Sona Chaandi boutique and the very popular Sona Chaandi Threading Boutique, which are both located in her plaza. She designs all the clothes and jewelry herself for her stores.
In 2007, Mrs. Malani was able to contribute to the passage of Assembly Bill 265, a bill to make it legal to practice eyebrow threading in California. She was also recognized with the 2007 Woman of the Year in Business award.
Mala is also a dynamic activist in social and community events. She has been honored to be keynote speaker for the Artesia High School graduation. She has also been a committee member on the Advisory Board of ABC Unified School District for the past five years and is a regular participant at city council meetings in the cities of Artesia and Cerritos.
One thing many people may not know about Mala is that in 1979 she was the first Indian woman to win the Miss Artesia title, while at the same time, attending the University of California in Riverside, where she earned a nursing degree.
In spite of her very busy outside schedule, Mala always puts her family first. She is married, has two children and is the proud grandmother of her newest, favorite bundle of joy, Kaylani.
Mala Malani, thank you for being an accomplished and caring member of your community. You are a valued leader and through your many efforts you have made Artesia a better place for people to live, grow and prosper. You exemplify the “Pride of 58”.
Gabriel Martinez (Commerce)
July 12, 2015
Gabriel Martinez has been the head coach of the City of Commerce’s Women’s Water Polo team for over 20 years. He is a Commerce resident who is dedicated to mentoring young athletes in his community. He believes all his players can achieve success as long as they work hard for it and he has worked to instill that confidence in the athletes he coaches. In fact, two former Commerce water polo players who trained under Coach Martinez, Brenda Villa and Patty Cardenas, have gone on to participate in the Olympics. Coach Martinez has achieved a successful career coaching in Commerce and he is proud of all his players.
Thank you Gabriel Martinez for believing in all of your players and personally investing your time and energy into your athletes.
Dorothy Westrup (Bellflower)
July 5, 2015
Dorothy Westrup has contributed to her community for many years, to bring culture and art to the City Bellflower. Dorothy has served as President of the Bellflower Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years and does an exemplary job. Her organization recently put on a young artists competition and the winners performed an outstanding concert with the Bellflower Symphony Orchestra at the Bristol Auditorium in Bellflower. Dorothy put in a great deal of time, dedication and effort to produce this outstanding and memorable event.
Dorothy is also the President of the Los Mochas Sister Cities. Some of her duties include finding hosts for visitors from Mexico and providing an entertainment schedule and tours for the special guests In addition to bringing the arts to Bellflower, she has also participated in a cultural exchange in Mexico, as part of a visiting delegation.
In fact, a few years ago, when one of the past board members suffered from a stroke and there was a great need for chaperones, Dorothy stepped up and has been her constant friend and helper throughout the years along with many of the Rotarians of Bellflower.
Thank you Dorothy for your giving heart and passion for sharing your love of the arts with so many in your community.
Gia Pacheco (Montebello)
June 28, 2015
Georgiana “Gia” Pacheco, a native of Montebello, is co-owner and an attorney at the Law Offices of George B. Pacheco and Associates. Gia shares her talent by volunteering as the secretary of the Montebello Police K-9 Association. This non-profit group is dedicated to finding resources for the Montebello Police Department’s K-9 Unit. Gia assists by organizing fundraising events, from deciding on a location, to recruiting volunteers, to assisting with the event.
Gia is also an editor for the local newspaper, “Montebello Reporter.” Through her monthly column, “Ask an Attorney,” she provides legal advice, free of charge, to her to community. She also volunteers her time as a legal resource, conducting presentations for residents of Montebello.
Among her activities, Gia has been a judge for the Montebello Lions Club speech contest and a volunteer for the Montebello Unified School District Pathways. She is a strong advocate and supporter of local businesses in the community. Often Gia and her staff take time away from their own busy office to support new business grand openings and other celebrations in Montebello.
Gia Pacheco you are a great model of a young adult serving and sharing your talents. Thank you for caring and for going the extra mile for your community.
Juan Anaya (Bell Gardens)
June 21, 2015
As a long time business owner of Anaya Service Center in Bell Gardens, Juan Anaya is more than your average business owner. Mr. Anaya has been in the automotive repair business for over 24 years. He has a unique way of making others feel important. He is a very giving person who always treats each customer as a friend. He is known to be flexible and empathetic towards his customer’s circumstances and has many loyal customers who would attest to this selfless quality. Aside from managing his business, Juan spends his time volunteering as a past president and a current board member of the Lions Club of Bell Gardens. He has taken the responsibility of being a leader in their annual carnivals, golf fundraising tournaments and many other events and has built a great relationship with the community. No matter how busy he may be, Juan always makes it his priority to help his community - with the Lions Club and as an active member of the Bell Gardens Chamber of Commerce, while at the same time never ignoring the needs of family and friends.
Thank you Mr. Anaya for being a great friend to the community and an understanding businessman. Your commitment to Bell Gardens is greatly appreciated.
David Luna (Pico Rivera)
June 14, 2015
Chef David Luna is an extraordinary role model for the youth of our community. Chef Luna’s ROP Food and Nutrition class (Culinary Arts), is an exemplary program that has changed lives in the Pico Rivera community. Not everyone will become a chef, but through real life examples Chef Luna shows students how to apply the skills they learn in his program to their regular academic courses. He teaches students how to make the best out of almost anything and has helped his students develop a variety of skills that they can apply to almost any situation. Communication skills, time management, networking, critical thinking, and problem solving are just a few examples of skills that each of his students have now learned or improved on under his tutelage. Aside from being a wonderful chef and teacher, Chef Luna is a humanitarian who serves his homemade meals to the homeless on Thanksgiving. He is also available for every one of his students twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He has dedicated his life to his work and it is rare to see someone enjoy their work as much as he does.
Thank you Chef Luna for showing the community that it is possible to love one’s job and care enough to share one’s gifts with others.
Mitchell Wybenga (Bellflower)
June 7, 2015
Mitch is a long time resident of Bellflower. He is a retired L.A. County Fire Department Captain. Since his retirement, Mitch’s schedule is always busy, filled with volunteerism and leadership in his community.
Mitch is a hands-on volunteer, sorting and assisting with inventory at the Affordable Treasures thrift store in Bellflower. The proceeds from Affordable Treasures go towards supporting local charities in Bellflower, such as Valley Christian Schools, Artesia Christian Homes, and Bethany Children Services. In addition to helping in his hometown of Bellflower, Mitch lends his time to neighboring cities - Paramount and Compton -assisting in beautification projects for both cities. As a man on a mission, Mitch also volunteers numerous hours per week with the Compton Initiative, an organization that mobilizes over 2,000 volunteers to complete beautification projects in the city of Compton.
Thank you Mitch for being a standout - generously giving your time and energy to the city of Bellflower and beyond. You are an example for others and your efforts today, will impact your communities for many years to come.
Darrell H. Heacock (Montebello)
May 31, 2015
Darrell Heacock was nominated by Jacqueline Derimow who wanted me to share with you about his generosity and kindness toward the city of Montebello.
He is the owner of Homer R. Heacock Realty, Inc. in Montebello, a business that started in the 1920’s by his father Homer R. Heacock. Darrell has served his community by serving at on the Montebello Unified School District Board, as President of the School Board. He has also been a faithful servant to his church in Montebello and as a Board member to the Montebello Chamber of Commerce, the Beverly Hospital Foundation, the Montebello District Board of Realtors, and the Camino Federal Credit Union. As an active member of the Kiwanis, Darrell has been dedicated to local community service for many, many years.
Darrell is the type of man who had his whole church pray for a friend, when she was in the hospital fighting for her life in 2013. Jacqueline Derimow said of him, “He will give someone his last dollar or the jacket off his back,” as he did at Thanksgiving with donations to feed and serve the poor a hot warm meal, even before his own family.
Thank you Darrell Heacock for your generous heart, compassion, and for being a true gentleman, who everyday on his morning walk, keeps the wellbeing of others in his prayers. “I can’t think of a more beautiful human being, and one more deserving of this recognition,” concluded Ms. Derimow. Well said and well done, Darrell.
Jim Giordano (Cerritos)
April 29, 2015
This week’s #Pride58 on #SpotlightSunday is Jim Giordano in Cerritos.
Jim is a very active parent at Leal Elementary where all three of his children attend. He volunteers with the Leal PTA and served as President of Leal Elementary Arts Program. Jim, along with his wife, Serena, spoke to over 300 parents as part of a panel of keynote speakers at the award winning ABC Unified School District Parent Leadership Conference. As a parent leader, Jim has also been a volunteer teacher at the ABC Adult School.
As Senior Vice President of Wealth Management for UBS Financial Services, Jim uses his financial expertise to serve and assist the ABCUSD Finance and Audit Committee.
In the community, he serves as a Board Member for American Youth Soccer Organization, where has coached youth soccer for 7 years, as well as volunteering as a referee for 4 years. A man with great energy and dedication to youth, Jim also lends his time to the Southeast Youth Organization as an assistant basketball coach and has coached Youth Basketball and Youth Soccer through the City of Cerritos Parks and Recreation Programs.
As a resident of Cerritos, Jim is an advocate for a safer community and has served as a member of the City of Cerritos Community Safety Committee.
Thank you Jim Giordano for the love you show for Cerritos and your dedication to making it a better place for our youth and our schools. You are a true leader and your service to the community is valued and respected.
Betty Morse (Downey)
April 29, 2015
This week’s #Pride58 on #SpotlightSunday is Betty Morse in Downey.
Betty Morse is one of our community’s unsung heroes. Every day, she quietly plugs away serving her community. For the last 19 years she has been a leader in organizing the ARC walk at Stonewood Mall, to raise funds and promote awareness of the ARC’s mission to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Betty also serves as a board member for the ARC. With a great heart for others, Betty is highly active in the Celebrate Recovery Ministry with Calvary Baptist Church in Bellflower and runs the kitchen to help feed the homeless. She also serves the community as a member of the Bellflower Kiwanis club.
Thank you Betty for your dedication and wonderful service. Every day you are improving your community and changing lives, one person at a time.
Dora Sandoval (Norwalk)
April 29, 2015
This week’s #Pride58 on #SpotlightSunday is Dora Sandoval in Norwalk.
Dora Sandoval is a spirited community leader and advocate. She spends most of her free time helping and supporting her community, by being part of the Norwalk Lions Club, the City of Norwalk’s Social Services and Public Safety commissions and the Santa Fe Springs Soroptimist Club. Dora has a heart of gold, always willing to step up to the plate to challenge herself and others to help improve and innovate the community she calls home.
Dora, your respectful, positive, caring manner and your passion for serving others has made you a valued leader. Thank you for always going the extra mile to help others.
Catherine “Kit” Snider (Cerritos)
April 29, 2015
This week’s #Pride58 on #SpotlightSunday is Catherine Snider in Cerritos.
Catherine “Kit” Snider is a mover and a shaker, responsible for organizing pickleball games in the City of Cerritos. Players play either at Whitney Gym or at the pickleball courts at Liberty Park. Kit has been a longtime advocate in getting the community involved in this sport, organizing the players and court times. Kit she is dedicated in getting seniors moving and active in the sport, as well as creating an inclusive environment where adults with special needs can also participate and build skills.
Kit is a former Cerritos Community Safety Member and she participates in the city’s safety events. Kit is the familiar face to the community with anything to do with “Organized Sports” and “Community Safety”.
Thank you Kit for your energy and enthusiasm. Through your initiative, you are bringing fun and healthy activities to so many, while making Cerritos a safer and more connected community.
Cristian Alcantara (Montebello)
April 26, 2015
Montebello’s Cristian Alcantara knows that the true meaning of being a volunteer is “setting your needs aside to help someone else without having anything back in return.” This optimistic and humble 17 year old volunteers at the Chet Holifield Library. What makes Cristian exceptional is his leadership. The library struggled to attract teens until Cristian created the Teen Advisory Board (TAB). As Cristian recruited other teens and worked with others to come up with new programs, the library saw a big bump in teen participation. Each day’s work at the library includes picking up books, organizing shelves and putting stray reading material back in order. For his efforts, Christian was recently honored as the 2015 County of Los Angeles Public Library’s Teen Volunteer of the Year. A young man on a mission, Cristian sums up his experience saying, “At the end of the day, I hardly have the energy to walk back to my house, but this experience is totally worth it.”
Thank you Cristian for sharing your energy, your passion and your infectious love of reading with people of all ages.
Team Artesia (Artesia)
April 19, 2015
Team Artesia connects with local volunteers and organizations to promote community involvement in city government. While Team Artesia was the brain child of the city, what inspires coordinator Andrew Perry is seeing residents who want to make their community a better place. Team Artesia relies on many volunteers, but among two of the dedicated are Karen Marie Bacolod and Rene Trevino. Karen’s cheerful enthusiasm and Rene’s drive help make Team Artesia succeed. Through the work of its volunteers, Team Artesia has put on events like “A Chance to Go Green” to help residents live more sustainably and “Youth Day” to connect younger community members to professionals who work to inspire youth and encourage them to live their dreams. Going above and beyond - thank you Team Artesia for keeping your city clean, governable and fun.
Doris Iglesias (Cerritos)
April 12, 2015
Doris Inglesias has been since 1978, giving back to her community through her work with the Philippine Society of Southeast Los Angeles (PHILSEA). Doris was educated in the Philippines and made Cerritos her home in 1972, alongside her husband, Jose Inglesias. The goal of PHILSEA is to help the Filipino community seize the challenges and opportunities of their adopted country. Doris exemplifies this goal with humility and helps make better lives possible for others. While retired as Vice President of the Maritime bank in 1996, since 2006 Doris has served on the Fine Arts and Historical Commission. Not only has Doris served on two city commissions, she has done everything from singing in the choir of the St. Bernard’s Catholic Church to helping sponsor a benefit concert following the devastation in the Philippines from Hurricane Haiyan. Thank you Doris for your active spirit, the kindness you show and your dedication to helping others.
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (Commerce)
April 5, 2015
Do you ever think about who is fighting for our environmental health and justice in our community? East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ) is an organization working towards a safe and healthy environment for communities that are disproportionately suffering the negative impacts of industrial pollution.
Mark Lopez and Angelo Logan have been leading the charge at EYCE. Founded by residents of Commerce and East LA in 2001, EYCEJ was created to give residents a voice regarding environmental health impacts in their own communities. The group organized to overcome the obstacles they faced individually when questioning proposals or activities from government agencies, businesses and rail yards. Since then, EYCEJ has achieved many important successes, including bringing issues of environmental justice and air quality to the forefront and to the attention of governmental entities at the regional and statewide level.
The group also proposed the City of Commerce Green Zones Policy, which became the first of its kind in suburban Los Angeles County when it was passed by the City Council in November of 2013. This policy led to the City of Commerce and the Commerce Green Zones Working Group being honored by the South Coast Air Quality Management District with a 2014 SCAQMD Clean Air Award.
Thank you EYCEJ for being our community watchdog. Every person benefits from your efforts, protecting the quality of our environment and of the air that we breathe.
Stay Gallery - Downey
March 17, 2015
Valentin Flores, Gabriel Enamorado, and Joseph Manacmul run started Stay Gallery, in 2012 All three of these gentlemen were educated in the Downey Unified School district and their passion for the arts and commitment to helping the community led them to open their gallery.
Stay Gallery offers their building for use by community organizations, nonprofits, artists, musicians and students. This enables the community to exhibit their art pieces and the gallery is also a venue for performances before live audiences.
“Downey Doodle-icious” is one of the Stay Gallery’s Youth Initiative Programs. It is an exciting program that integrates the arts with civic and community lessons for 3rd grade students. It enhances their appreciation of serving the community, while expanding their love of art.
Thank you Valentin, Gabriel & joseph and the Stay Gallery for your commitment to the community. You are the symbol of youth, energy and revitalization for the City of Downey.
Nancy Yarahuan (Bell Gardens)
March 12, 2015
Nancy Yarahuan has empowered many youth to become leaders and to defend and give back to their community.
Her service at St. Gertrude’s United for Change, has impacted the lives of hundreds. She has taught the United for Change group to always acknowledge, through community service, those who are less fortunate than they are. Two summers ago, Nancy’s commitment to change lives spurred her to take the group on a once in a lifetime trip to New York. These experiences made the group look at the lives of others in a different perspective and made them realized the blessings in their own lives.
For over four years, Nancy has coordinated St. Gertrude’s parish retreats for all students who are in the process of preparing for their Confirmation. She has taught her students to embrace their spiritual life to, as she says, “let go and let God”, and to “be your own kind of beautiful” and to pursue happiness in life.
Thank you Nancy for leading and inspiring many Latinos to become the leaders of the future and helped them realize they have the power to change the world. You are a one-of-a-kind leader and role model.
Aktion Club of Downey (Downey)
March 9, 2015
Aktion Club in Downey is an official Kiwanis Sponsored Service Leadership Program made up of adult citizens who live with disabilities and who are interested in serving their communities. The Aktion Club is the nation's only service club exclusively for people with intellectual disabilities.
The Downey chapter, led by President Alex Rosas, raises money year-round and uses its proceeds to provide Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts for the residents of the Lakewood Gardens nursing home. The club members extend their kindness by buying cake, decorations and presents for all of the residents. More importantly, club members spend time talking and interacting with the residents. They make the day truly special for all of the seniors they serve.
For Christmas, club members adopt a local needy family and ensure each family member receives at least 2 to 3 individual presents. And just this week, the club created artworks comprised entirely of recyclable materials, which they donated to Gauldin Elementary School.
Thank you Aktion Club of Downey, for caring about your neighbors. As you give back to others, you are making Downey a better place for everyone. All of you are truly an inspiration.
Beverly Walker – Pico Rivera
March 1, 2015
Beverly Walker, AKA the city’s “pillar of literacy” is known for her energetic promotion of reading in the community.
She is a founding member and the president of the Friends of the Pico Rivera Libraries, and she runs its bookstore. “I can’t say enough about Beverly and the work she does on behalf of this community,” said Administrative Analyst Ray Chavez. “She’s the catalyst for just about anything to do with literacy in Pico Rivera.”
Her volunteerism began when she and her husband, John, a former planning director, moved to Pico Rivera in 1978, where both regular library patrons.
Beverly started volunteering at the Rivera Library in the mid-1980s, and in 1995, she joined with a handful of residents and city personnel to form “Friends of the Pico Rivera Libraries.”
Eleven years ago, the Friends and city officials launched a bookstore, where Walker, 73, volunteers about 11 hours a week. Even in today’s age of Kindles, iPads and the Internet, she is an advocate for the relevance of community libraries. “Libraries are still a great resource for information, as well as a gathering place for the community,” Walker said. They also provide us today’s high-tech devices, with a great selection of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs,” she concluded.
In addition to her passion for literacy, Beverly is a long-standing member of the League of Women voters, joining even before she made Pico Rivera her home.
Related to this is her commitment that her community is up-to-date on candidates and on election issues. “We do what we can to provide information so that once people get in the voting booths, they know who and what they are voting for,” Walker explained.
Beverly has been a member of the Pio Pico Woman's Club since 2006, as well as a member of the Rio Hondo Symphony Guild and a board member for Shelter’s Right Hand, a part of the Women’s and Children’s Crisis Shelter in Whittier
Thank you Beverly for your years of commitment and service to community, as well as your dedication to literacy for all. We are grateful for the difference you are making, every day, in the lives of so many in Pico Rivera and surrounding communities.
Family Outreach & Community Intervention Services – Norwalk
February 27, 2015
The Family Outreach & Community Intervention Services (F.O.C.I.S) is a decade old, non-profit that has been a community hero. Established by Pastor Richard Salazar, F.O.C.I.S, helps community members tackle urgent and habitual problems, like addictions, eating disorders, alcoholism and troubled family dynamics.
F.O.C.I.S partners with, schools, law enforcement agencies and local community organizations to help parents, teenagers and families in need. Programs range from targeting domestic violence intervention to addiction recovery. The success of the organization lies with the dedication of Pastor Salazar, Pastor Reggie Bowie, Pastor Richard Gallardo, Mr. Rick Moore, and Ms. Irene Fuentes.
They join with approximately 30 volunteers, who all who work tirelessly to promote individual growth and better family structures.
F.O.C.I.S programs have been recognized for their success by the L.A. County Department of Probation, and Juvenile courts. For instance, the “Parent Project” is a 13 week parent training course that helps parents reduce family conflict, improve school performance, and identify substance abuse issues. F.O.C.I.S also helps educate teenagers on how to deal with painful personal issues and how to avoid drug addiction.
Thank you F.O.C.I.S for your sense of caring and fierce dedication to rescuing families and teens going through tough times. You are helping to build a life path for so many, mending families and restoring hope to people in need of a helping hand.
Sandra Cornejo – Commerce
February 22, 2015
Mrs. Sandy Cornejo, retired after 30 years from the Montebello Unified School District-Bell Gardens High School, she has been a difference maker in the lives of so many students. She has patiently listened to her students, encouraged them to do their best, taught them to think out of the box and to be grateful and humble – impressing on them the need to “Pay it Forward,” and serve others as a way of life.
Sandra is a doer and an active volunteer. She spends her time serving as a Senior Citizen Commission member. She served as President of the Woman’s Club and as a member of the Rosewood Park School PTA, where she received the Community Honorary Service Award. Sandy strongly believes that citizens should exercise their right to vote, in order to have their voices heard. She was active in the City of Commerce incorporation efforts; gathering signatures in order to place “City Incorporation” on the ballot. And putting her words in action, she has done her civic duty, volunteering at “Get out the Votes” drives, to make sure everyone has an opportunity to vote.
Sandra was Instrumental in the development of the first “Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops” in the City of Commerce and now as a grandmother and a great-grandmother, she has left a positive legacy for the children in her community. She is also an active church parishioner where she teaches catechism to the children of St. Marcellinus Parish.
Thank you Sandra Cornejo for being a dedicated community and church leader, a devoted volunteer, role model to so many and an extraordinary citizen in service to the City Commerce.
Luigi Vernola (Norwalk)
February 15, 2015
Councilmember Luigi Vernola, an immigrant from Italy was raised with family values to become as educated as possible, work hard, provide for your family and give back to your community and church. He lives those family values every day, serving as a Councilman, Vice Mayor and Mayor in the City of Norwalk.
Luigi is the co-founder of the Santa’s Sleigh Foundation. The foundation asks local churches, school districts, social services, and various cities for names of families in need. The foundation then sends letters to those families to tell them that they will be receiving a bounty of food and gifts. Over the years many parents have commented that if it weren’t for Councilman Vernola and the Foundation, they would not have been able to provide their children with gifts.
Luigi is a real life Santa who personally chooses and pays for all the gifts and through the Santa’s Sleigh foundation, along with several other organizations, provides additional food and personal items to those in need.
Luigi is a generous, jolly man, who enjoys stopping at homes and handing out gifts personally to families, while traveling in a makeshift Santa’s sleigh.
Thank you Luigi Vernola for being a friend and a man with the heart of Santa Claus. You bring hope to all you meet and joy and smiles to the children of Norwalk.
Hollywood Sports Park (Bellflower)
February 8, 2015
This week’s #pride58 on this #spotlightsunday is the Hollywood Sports Park in Bellflower.
Owners of this 23 acres of fun, Dennis Bukoski and Giovanni D’Egidio kindly host many major community events, free of charge, such as Bellflower Day, National Night Out, and their annual Breakfast with Santa, sponsored with the Rotary Club of Bellflower. Their sense of community and giving goes on and on.
Thank you, gentlemen for your generosity with the Hollywood Sports Park. An event is nothing without a venue and you both make so many good things possible. As your nominator stated “You are the best thing that has happened to our city.” Congratulations, I’m sure many in Bellflower agree.
Alma Garcia (Bell Gardens)
February 1, 2015
Congratulations to Alma Garcia! This week’s #Pride58 on #spotlightsunday
Alma Garcia, is a resident of Bell Gardens and a mother of three boys who attend schools in the Montebello Unified School District. She is a high energy, active member in PTA’s at two Bell Gardens schools.
She works directly with school staff at Suva Elementary and Suva Intermediate to see how the PTA can assist the school and uplift students. It is her dream to see more students from Bell Gardens get accepted and attend college. Along with the PTA, Alma shares her time with the School Site Council and the English Learner program - The quality of children’s education in her community is her highest priority.
Alma also serves as a Neighborhood Watch Captain, to organize and educate her neighbors about keeping their community safe.
Thank you Alma Garcia for being so generous with your time and talents and caring about a better future for all children.
Mario’s Tacos (Pico Rivera)
January 25, 2015
Mario Jimenez, owner of Mario’s Tacos started a tradition in 1982, serving free Thanksgiving dinners to those in need. This was triggered when his son at age a 6 asked during their Thanksgiving dinner, “What about others?” For the last 28 years, Mario’s Tacos on Whittier Blvd serves free turkey dinners with all the trimmings to those who need a meal or to folks simply seeking company during the holiday.
Mario Jimenez, who died October 15, 2013 from bone cancer, said “I believe in giving back to the community.” It was his wish that Mario's Tacos keeps serving his community with free dinners on Thanksgiving.
As an immigrant from Guerrero, Mexico, Mario would reminisce about how his father and mother did not have much money. His 68-year-old wife, Celia, expects to keep cooking the dinners until she "can't move." She hopes the people they've fed would choose to help others, too.
Volunteers like sheriff's Lt. Steve Sanchez would help dish out the dinner. Sanchez has served turkey for the past 12 years. "What impresses me about the Jimenezes is that they don't care about making a penny. They care about the community," he said. "They are into the spirit of giving."
Their daughter, Norma, said they served 895 turkey dinners at last year's event. She expects the same turnout again this year. It was her father’s dying wish for his family to continue the tradition and they are committed to fulfilling his wish. The Jimenez family was honored in 1988 as the Hispanic Family of the Year by President Ronald Reagan.
Thank you Mario’s Tacos and the Jimenez family for caring and for being what Pastor Joshua Lee called “a cornerstone of the community.”
Tommy Diaz (Cerritos College)
January 18, 2015
Congratulations to Mr. Tommy Diaz, this week’s #Pride58 on #spotlightsunday.
Tommy entered foster care at age 13 and his 8 years in the system fuels his passion to actively advocate and be involved in charitable youth organizations such as: Foster Club, Youth on the Move Project, Foster Kinship Care, the Regional Occupation Program (R.O.P.) and the Education Department at Cerritos College.
Tommy, a student at Cerritos College, was recently awarded the Edison Green Technology Scholarship and Leaders In Creating Change scholarship. Tommy was selected to be the 2014 California Youth Ambassador for Los Angeles Count, where he collaborated with county leaders, Education Equals Opportunity Partnership and California College Pathways to improve educational outcomes for California’s foster children, youth and alumni.
Thank you Tommy Diaz for being a young, committed advocate, dedicated to creating a better future for our foster youth. You are an inspiration to us all.
Raul Elias (Pico Rivera)
January 4, 2015
High school teacher, Raul Elias, works tirelessly to provide youth with restorative justice projects that benefit the community of Pico Rivera. Working in collaboration with the Superior Court, five years ago, he founded the El Rancho High School Teen Court. Mr. Elias demonstrates leadership through his ongoing efforts working with students, school administrators, parents, elected officials, probation officers, attorneys and judges. They offer juvenile offenders the opportunity to be tried by a jury of peers, with the incentive of the youth having no criminal record if he/she completes the program.
The El Rancho Teen Court has established itself as a premier model for youth courts throughout the county and state. It is a force in attacking the problems of truancy, substance abuse, hate crimes and other issues plaguing youth in our communities. Mr. Elias’ commitment to community justice motivated his students to establish the first and only Teen Court Club in the county. A place for teens to think critically about legal issues and ways to increase restorative justice for their peers.
Thank you Mr. Elias’ for your inspiring work as a teacher, a mentor and a community leader.