FLAGSTAFF — With guest speakers and attendees remembering their personal connection to César E. Chávez and local Hispanic pioneers sharing their stories to inspire the next generation of leaders, the inaugural “César E. Chávez Community Recognition Awards” provided a fitting launch to what organizers and community members hope will become an enduring and growing annual event.
The celebration was presented by the Coconino Hispanic Advisory Council (CHAC).
Nearly 50 community members, dignitaries and elected officials made reservations to take part in the early morning celebration held Friday, March 27 at Tacos Los Altos Westside in the Woodlands Village Shopping Center, Flagstaff.
The event honored Hispanic Pioneers Guadalupe “Lupe” Anaya and Tomas H. Vega; Flagstaff City Councilmember Coral Evans and NAU Graduate Student Martha Caballero Preciado.
Supervisor Liz Archuleta, who launched the diversity councils which include CHAC, the Intertribal Advisory Council and the African American Advisory Council, presented opening remarks.
She thanked CHAC members for their dedication to presenting this and other community events and for recognizing individuals who have dedicated their time and effort to benefit the local Hispanic community.
Guest speaker, the Honorable Judge Nellie Soto, shared her personal experiences with United Farm Workers of America founders César Chávez and Dolores Huerta to an audience that included such officials and dignities as Supervisor Art Babbott; Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours, who provided closing remarks; Flagstaff Chief of Police Kevin Treadway and Coconino County Chief Deputy Sheriff Jim Driscoll.
Soto, retired judge of the Justice Court of the West Phoenix Precinct, said she became active in the Farm Workers movement under Chávez. A graduate of Arizona State University, she was presented with the César E. Chávez Community Leadership Award for her outstanding contributions to the Central and West Phoenix communities.
Lupe Anaya was recognized for her more than 40 years of dedicated service of working with children in the local Head Start program. She has lived most of her life in the Plaza Vieja neighborhood of Flagstaff, where her strong community activism helped to establish the neighborhood Block Watch Program, Plaza Vieja Community Association and the Plaza Vieja Neighborhood Park.
Vega was cited for his community and military contributions. Born in Flagstaff on March 9, 1922, he enrolled in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Vega’s experience documented in the book “Images of America, the Civilian Conservation Corps in Arizona.” He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and served with the the 49th Engineers Combat Battalion and the 359th Engineer General Service Regiment, landing on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944. He was also an active member of the Triangulo Club, Monterey Club, Catholic War Veterans and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.
Preciado graduated from Northern Arizona University in May 2014 with her bachelor’s degree in psychology and is currently working on her master’s degree program in Educational Psychology. Preciado, who is a graduate assistant for Student Support Services at NAU, thanked CHAC for the award and said she was inspired by the stories and dedication of Hispanic pioneers Anaya and Vega.
Flagstaff City Councilmember Evans was recognized for her dedication to the local Hispanic community through her work as executive director of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association of Flagstaff, an organization which presents the annual Fiesta de Mayo, the Fiesta de Independencia and the newly-created Market of Dreams / Mercado de los Sueños.
CHAC members include Ruth Eaton, Patricia Garcia, Eduardo Tapia, Laura SujoMontes, Miguel Vasquez; Frank X. Moraga as current chair and master of ceremonies for the awards ceremony and Theresa Thomas, executive assistance to Supervisor Archuleta, who serves as the liaison to the organization.
About CHAC: The Coconino County Hispanic Advisory Council was established in 2001 with the purpose of advising the County Board of Supervisors on issues and concerns that affect the Hispanic community in Coconino County. In addition to serving as an advisory group to the County supervisors, the council has identified the following four major areas of focus:
- To conduct forums on issues and concerns of the Hispanic community.
- To promote awareness of the need for diversity in employment, training and economic development.
- To assist Coconino County in recruiting and retaining Hispanic employees.
- To promote Hispanic culture, arts, historic activities and events.
- To examine and make policy recommendations in the areas of education, housing, land use, health, social services, recreation and criminal justice issues.