I was recently honored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation at their Hispanic Business Community Awards ceremony on October 29 at the Capital One Bank headquarters. Capital One Bank served as the presenting sponsor of the reception and ceremony. I was honored to accept this award as it was a very special evening shared with friends and colleagues. This award is a true testament to the LAYC staff, Board of Directors, and community of volunteers who do so much to support the goals of our region’s youth. I am the fortunate person who gets to go to the event and receive the recognition on behalf of so many.

With this award, I am most proud of the category Community Champion. I believe that all of us at LAYC serve as champions for our community and most importantly, for the young people in our community.

Our youth need champions! They need someone in their corner to be there for them during their ups and downs, their good times and their challenges. They need someone to speak up and speak out, to raise their voice to ensure their access to quality education, employment opportunities, scholarships, and more. They need adults in their lives to celebrate their successes as they graduate from high school or college, receive their GED, obtain their first job, etc.

As the leader of LAYC for many years, the true joy of my work is my long-term connection to youth and their families and my community. Just this week I received a call from one of our youth who having aged out of foster care and gone off to college, is now planning to attend graduate school. Another youth came into my office to tell me how happy she is in our Bard college program, while another walked in with a photograph and hand-made frame of her and me with the words “hardworking,” “helpful,” and “kind” painted on the edges of the frame. Those words sum it up for me. I am proud to be a community champion and most importantly with every day when I come to work I aspire to be hard-working, helpful, and kind. And for me, that is a good day!

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