2016 #Pride58

Rodrigo Gallegos

October 31, 2016

Rodrigo Gallegos

Rodrigo Gallegos, a lifelong resident of Commerce, has been active in his community since his initial move her in 1962.Although he retired in 1993 from L.A. Unified School District as an Electronics Technician, Mr. Gallegos sits on many commissions and is an active volunteer in the City of Commerce.

At 91 years old, Rodrigo is currently the Public Safety & Community Services Commissioner for the City of Commerce. He is also a ComCat (Commerce Community Assistance Team) Volunteer for the Public Safety & Community Services Department and has over 13 years of service. As part of the ComCat Club, Rodrigo assists in all of his city’s crime prevention programs, such as the Annual Neighborhood Watch and Fingerprinting for Operation Kid Identification.

Beyond volunteering for public safety programs, Rodrigo has been an active member of the Senior Citizens Social Club and has been their treasurer for over 30 years. He is always active in the Club, whether it is through helping load bags of Food for their Food Bank or assisting low-income families file taxes at City Hall. He has also been a past member of various clubs and committees, such as the Democratic Club, the former Housing Committee and the former Parks & Recreation Commissioner.

When he is not committing his time to volunteering, Rodrigo enjoys fiddling with electronics, as he was formerly an Electronics Technician for the L.A. Unified School District.

Emely Puente

September 25, 2016

Emely Puente

Emely Puente, an incoming senior at Bellflower High School, was recently recognized as the Grand Prize Winner for the 2016 LegiSchool Photo Contest. Her photo chronicles the story of her grandfather's hardships coming to California from Guanajuato Mexico at the age of 12 or 13 and the hardships faced working as a field worker.

Emely Puente Winning PhotoAlthough she has no previous photography experience, her former teacher, Ms. Gamdoa, encouraged her to enter the contest.

"This photo represents the hardships my grandfather [and grandmother] faced to get here in order to support eight children," said Puente. "Without their sacrifices, I wouldn't be here."

This year's photo contest attracted submissions from over 54 High Schools around the state. Emely's photo is currently displayed at the State Capitol Building. Participants of the contest were asked to submit a photo along with an essay describing how their photo represents California "through their eyes."

Her winning photo has led to an interest and pursuit in photography and photojournalism. Outside of this contest, Emely is also involved with her school's ROP class and volunteers at the LA Hospital in Lakewood. She plans to pursue a career in anthropology or pathology.

Congratulations to Emely!

Hedy Harrison-Anduha (Cerritos)

August 28, 2016

Hedy Harrison-Anduha has been a resident of Cerritos during its initial growth in the 1960s and has played an active role in her community ever since.

Before retiring in 2003, Ms. Harrison-Anduha was a children’s librarian for the city. She established many programs and projects that assisted the library in providing services to the community. Hedy is also a founding member of the Friends of the Cerritos Library, which was formed in 1972.

“As a founding member of the Friends of the Cerritos Library, it was important to the group to establish a cornerstone for the love of reading, exploration, and research for the people that live in Cerritos,” said Anduha.

Despite her retirement, Hedy currently is dedicated to teaching Hula dance and Hawaiian culture at the Cerritos Senior center through the Da Hawaii Seniors Club. She has been a charter member since 1998 and seeks to share and promote the Hawaiian culture by offering her years of experience as a Hulu dancer and ukulele player.

The Club offers beginning hula classes on Wednesday and an Intermediate/Advanced class on Thursdays and has a membership of over 100 dancers.

“As a hula instructor (kumu), I am able to spread the aloha spirit in the community and lead a wonderful group of senior women so they can spread the aloha spirit throughout the community and in their own cultures,” said Hedy.  “That is my journey, my hu'akai!”

Kingdom Causes

July 31, 2016

Kingdom Causes Bellflower is a community-based organization that focuses on bringing together local churches and city residents to build a strong thriving community.

Kingdom Causes carries an emphasis on helping our youth, families, and individuals in need of support. As part of their mission to build relationships with those facing homelessness, Kingdom Causes meets at Calvary Bellflower Church every Saturday and offers free showers, a hot breakfast, and a place for constructive conservation and prayer.

Other outreach programs include a weekly homework club open to students in the surrounding area, as well as a “Bike Shop” Program that offers donated-bikes to those in need of a low-cost transportation vehicle. Their Good Soils program also helps hard-to-hire people the opportunity to work their way out of poverty.

Kingdom Causes has been an encouraging and positive influence in the City of Bellflower. They work and partner with local churches to unite them as one for the purpose inspiring people towards personal and community transformation. Their connection with the city, schools, and the community based organizations is a prime example of their dedication to serve Bellflower for the betterment of the community.

My First Teacher Program

June 26, 2016

My First Teacher is a new program that brings parents all throughout the Southeast together with one common purpose: improve their children's academic success.

The program, which embraces "leadership development through storytelling," is a 10-week leadership program that empowers parents to play a more active role in their children's education.

More specifically, My First Teacher tackles various issues facing early education, from addressing the teacher to student classroom ratio to the accessibility of parents becoming volunteers in the classroom. The program currently has a small number of parents, a majority of which are parents who come from working class, immigrant communities who speak limited English.

Maria Chavez and Genoveva Catrellon are among the six parent leaders from the program who are trying to tackle issues facing parent volunteers. As part of the first cohort of leaders, they are currently trying to address the often burdensome screening process required for parent volunteers, which consists of expensive health exams and checkups. Maria Chavez and Genoveva Catrellon are in many ways representative of the program's ability to train future leaders and advocates, since both are currently involved in their communities.

Despite all odds, My First Teacher continues to be a valuable resource to the district and to parents seeking to play a first-hand role in their children's academic success.

Fahir and Gurith Milian of Dolan Home & Ninos Latinos Unidos Inc., Foster Care

May 29, 2016

Fahir and Gurith Milian are known to their community for their dedicated loving service to under-privileged children and their community. They operate Dolan Home, an adult residential facility for the developmentally disabled located in the City of Downey. Dolan Home not only provides assistance to young adults who have been diagnosed as developmentally disabled, but to their families who continue to raise and nurture them.

The couple also spearheads Ninos Latinos Unidos Inc., Foster Care. Ninos Latinos Unidos connects Spanish-speaking foster parents to Latino foster children. Every Thanksgiving, the Milians host an annual event which brings together the foster children, their families, and the community. With the help of various high school students, they put together a great annual celebration consisting of food, special guests, and entertainment that varies from a wood-making booth to jewelry-making workshops.

Mr. and Mrs. Milian have given back to the community for years and continue to do so with a loving, gracious and welcoming spirit.