This month Border Eco is pleased to include an individual who is making a difference in the community. What makes him an exceptional individual is the fact he was once a tenant of the Nogales Housing Authority now he is the director.
Thompson is an individual whose voice resonates within our community. In December, he will celebrate 25 years of service with the City of Nogales. During the end of 2019 and early 2020, Mr. Thompson was the acting deputy city manager. Later in 2020 and early 2021, he was appointed as Acting City Manager. Just recently appointed as Housing Director overseeing Nogales Housing Authority while once again serving as Acting Deputy City Manager.
“Nogales is an incredibly safe place to live. We have a significant law enforcement presence in the city. Our crime rates are low. We have beautiful parks and more on the way. However, we do have a shortage of housing. We have limited rental properties, which I believe has contributed to our census numbers dropping,”stated Robert Thompson Housing Director.
In June of 2021, Robert was appointed executive director of the Housing Authority and stepped down from the police department. Thompson has been appointed as Acting Deputy City Manager, where he assists the Acting City Manager with daily operations. "Although my separation from the police department qualifies as a retirement, the internal move and retirement policies do not allow me to retire because I chose to remain employed by the City of Nogales."
Robert was born in Tucson Arizona. He has lived the large majority of his life in Nogales, Arizona. In fact, he grew up in the low income apartments he currently manages, next to his office. “I see the home I grew up in daily and it reminds me of my past,” said Thompson. Robert has two children Mia and Mathew. He likes to keep his family life private.
During his teenage years, he worked briefly for the Housing Authority as a maintenance worker. Over the subsequent years, he worked at Wal-Mart and volunteered for victim services. In December 1996, he applied for a communications position at the police department and was hired.
In February of 2000, he went to the police academy in Tucson Arizona and graduated in June as a peace officer. In 2003, Thompson was promoted to detective then in 2005 to Corporal. Finally in 2007, he was promoted to sergeant. While serving In this capacity, he supervised patrol officers, detectives, k-9 officers, motor officers, parking enforcement and held different capacities within the police department. In 2015, he was promoted to lieutenant where he managed all operational divisions of the police department. He successfully applied for and obtained a multitude of grants that helped the police department grow. These grants provided vehicles, and equipment, roughly estimated at $5.5 million dollars.
“ My commitment is to the people of Nogales and I am willing to help in any capacity where I can make an impact. No matter where I am needed,”said Thompson.
This month Border Eco is pleased to include an individual who is making a difference in the arts. Evan Kory recently started as the Arts Coordinator for the Santa Cruz School Superintendent’s Office. He is currently pursuing several federal grant applications for art programs to implement in our schools across Santa Cruz County.
Evan Kory is a Nogales native. He attended Nogales High School before he went to an arts school in Michigan called Interlochen Arts Academy his junior and senior year. He graduated with a Doctorate of Musical Arts in piano performance from Manhattan School of Music and a Masters of Music in Historical Performance from The Juilliard School. Kory was inspired by his piano teacher in New York, Phillip Kawin. He has been a great influence and mentor throughout his career. Evan began studying with him at the age of 17, and worked with him for 14 years.
As a pianist and harpsichordist he had the opportunity to perform all over the world. He spent most of his adult life living in New York City where he studied at the Manhattan School of Music, and Juilliard School. There he worked as a freelance performer and teacher. He also taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. In 2017, after completing his doctorate Evan decided to come back to Nogales. In the interim, he did an artist residency for the inaugural concert season at the Benderly-Kendall Opera House in Patagonia.
“In the four years that I have been back in Nogales I have become increasingly active working with numerous non-profit organizations helping to develop arts programs for our Santa Cruz County schools. The Santa Cruz County Superintendent’s Office serves as a bridge for all of the school districts in the county. This is an incredible opportunity to enrich the lives of our youth in a very direct way.”
“The last year has been very difficult for our community and the world at large. The arts have always been about bringing people together and throughout this pandemic we have been transported into a world of unnatural social distancing. As we move towards some normalcy, as the arts coordinator I am planning events, presentations, and workshops that will hopefully play a critical role in bringing our students and community back together,” said Kory.
The Office of the Santa Cruz Superintendent recently submitted a grant proposal that centers on cultural identity and the revitalization of the downtown area. The grant proposal includes a variety of arts projects from art exhibitions with La Linea Art Studio on Morley, to student concerts and workshops with the Santa Cruz Foundation for the Performing Arts, along with the planning of public mural projects, and theater productions with the Borderlands Theater.
“We may not be able to meet in person at the moment, but as soon as it is safe, we will have an array of inspiring opportunities for our schools and community. I would like to thank our Santa Cruz County School Superintendent Mr. Alfredo Velásquez for always prioritizing the arts. He has vision and understands how the arts and academics go hand in hand. I would also like to thank Mrs. Maya Donnelly, C-CREO Grants Program Director, for guiding me these first weeks. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes at our schools and she has been very supportive and welcoming,”replied Evan Kory.
Patricia Zarate has been working in the healthcare field for several years now. She is the co-owner, registered nurse, and Assisted Living Manager for Royal Assisted Living.
“I never envisioned my career to be in caregiving. I became very passionate about caregiving after seeing how many elderly people in our community live in unsafe conditions, without little or no assistance. I felt the need to become their voice and advocate for them through my service/work,” said Zarate.
Caring for the elderly has given me a sense of fulfillment both professionally and personally. The trust given to me personally and professionally by patients and family is priceless but comes with a huge responsibility. A responsibility that most often comes with very long days away from one's personal life but is very manageable. Happiness is very subjective and many perceive that work and happiness are not synonymous but I disagree. There is a great happiness that comes with devoting your life to the service of others.
I love being an advocate for the elderly in our community. Many times, the elderly feel overwhelmed with cognitive impairment decline and all the challenges and changes that need to be made to assure they have a safe living environment. Case managing each patient's situation individually in finding the right resources to give them a better quality of life is beyond fulfilling. Many times elderly and families are not aware of all the resources available to them.
“As a home health nurse, you play a key role in the continuation of care outside a hospital environment by assuring that we keep our elderly out of the hospital. Having a relationship and communicating with local primary care physicians plays a huge role in a plan of care. Many times it can become challenging but I love autonomy. Relationships with our patients are created because many times we become their voice. I have a deep passion for helping patients and families during their most trying times. I simply love what I do,” said Patricia Zarate.
My future plans are to grow and evolve in creating services that will assist families by facilitating caring for their loved ones either full-time or part-time in a safe environment that is dignified and compassionate. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has delayed our plans and now modifications need to be implemented with resident safety as the priority.
This month people that “echo” wants to not only highlight those individuals who make a difference in our community but also the importance of caregivers in our community. Caregivers are people who provide physical and emotional care to ill or disabled individuals. Caregivers advocate, provide personal care, do household tasks, and provide medical care. They often take on the responsibilities of the patient. The importance of caregivers should never be underestimated.
One thing caregivers have in common is a heart of service. Those who enjoy giving and caring for others also need care and appreciation for everything they do. A sincere thank you to Patricia Zarate and Zuhaila Parra for caring for those who don’t have a voice.
This month’s person who “echoes” in Santa Cruz County is Francis Glad. She is a Nogales native. A typical Nogalense whose family has been here for many generations. In fact, her grandmother’s grandmother was a midwife here in the 1940s. Her mother had fought alongside Pancho Villa. Francis has a picture of her great-great grandmother she inherited of her and Pancho Villa with her name written in pencil. Her great-gr grandmother was a “guerillera” standing on the side of the train in her long dress with a satchel of bullets across her torso.
Francis is married, she has two sons, Adrian and little Freddy. She also has two granddaughters and a lovely daughter in law. She is creative and feels most comfortable where there’s music, but loves to sing and dance. “When I grow up, I’d really like to be a writer and an advocate for positive change,” said Glad.
Francis was recently elected to be the first vice-chair for the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party. She started as a volunteer in early 2019. Shortly after she was asked to become a Precinct Committee Person. She did not have the faintest clue of what that was at the time, so she did what anyone else would do, Google it. A Precinct Committee Person is an actual elected position. It is the lowest level of elected positions but an important one, in terms of a community. In short, a PC is the bridge between a political party and members of the public. They build relationships with people and communicate their wishes to those running for office. They facilitate voting and voting registration by organizing.
Glad was later appointed within the local party to be a member of the Affirmative Action Committee for ADP, and then a spot on the executive board as a member at large. She has a Bachelor in Criminal Justice with a focus in human services. She has a Masters in Business Administration.
“If a person would like to begin a career in politics, becoming a PC is a great starting point. However, I see volunteering for the local Democratic Party as a way for any one person, who cares about the wellbeing of the community around them, who shares our values, to take action. Be it taking action in speaking up for vulnerable people, or simply offering a hand to register neighbors to vote. I see it as valuable public service, because when you look at the big picture, even the smallest thing that a person does, takes us a step closer to a better society. What is great about the party is that any person can help, regardless of experience, language or education. Every single person has something to offer. Volunteering with the party also introduces you to the different levels of government work. If nothing else, volunteering, provides work experience while building on your communication and organizational skills,” stated Glad.
“My future plans for the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party are to get more people involved so that every group has a seat at the table. We want to make sure our party grows and becomes more diverse”.
“Individuals who have inspired me the most throughout my career are Connie Williams, Nanette, Aissa, Nick & Jonathan, Jerry, Dr. Molly, Mary, Rosanna, Billy, Fernando, Dolores, Fred, Adrian, Ernie, Carmen, Liz. I think I get inspired by just about everyone I meet. Do you know how many interesting people there are out there, who you would see as ordinary, but behind them, there is a world of inspiring stories? It's unfair to say that one person has inspired me more than another,” said Francis Glad.
“I’d like to thank my family, friends, and especially my husband Fred and my mother Dolores for their support. Without them always having my back and trusting in me, I would not be able to do half of what I do. I want to thank Mary Darling for taking me under her wing and transferring her knowledge into my noggin. Also, all the friends I have made along the way that have made me feel welcomed, helped, and encouraged me.
“At the risk of sounding cliche, I think that helping citizens register to vote is right at the top of the list of accomplishments. Not only are you helping people exercise their right, but giving them the power to shape the direction they want their community, state, and country to move in. We have been seeing politicians win and lose, within the thin margins that one person, one vote, can make a world of difference. There is something indescribable about giving people a voice. In little over a year, I have been responsible for getting 200 new registrations and PEVL sign-ups,” replied Glad.
Another accomplishment, I am extremely proud of occurred last November. I was one of those individuals who was involved in submitting a resolution for approval to the Nogales City Council. The resolution proposed was to urge the Arizona Legislature to hear and ratify an amendment to the constitution equal rights for men and women. The council then, voted unanimously to approve the ERA resolution.
I was also the main organizer for the Community Labor Day Picnic. It was a party sponsored event to commemorate the unions and workers. Six non-profit organizations, two local merchants, and two hundred and fifty people attended. I helped organize the BLM candlelight vigil, the unborn sanctuary city fiasco protest, save the post office, and about ninety-eight events since March 2019.
“I was attracted to volunteer for this organization because aside from seeing the state of affairs in our country since 2016, I was invited to join in on a few of the party’s meetings. What I saw was a group of people who were genuinely caring and passionate about others. At one of the meetings, I heard someone say “What can we do?” about an issue being discussed. Around the table, each provided insight, and ideas. A decision of action was made. It was true, regular people can make a difference. I was hooked,” replied Glad.
The journey appears to be finally coming to an end, it has been 53 years of working in public service for Sheriff Tony Estrada. In just a couple of months, a new sheriff will be elected into office. The transition will not be easy for Santa Cruz County as for years Sheriff Tony Estrada has been the chief law enforcement for our county. For years, the people of Santa Cruz County have been supporting him.
Sheriff Tony Estrada will be missed. From time and time again, he has displayed compassion, integrity, dedication, commitment and a deep passion for the office of the sheriff. He has always been an advocate for our border town even when it wasn’t politically correct. He has fought for the common good. He has always proven to be a diplomat, not a politician.
“Working for Santa Cruz County in public service is special for several reasons as an elected constitutional sheriff it gave me a strong voice to represent and support the law enforcement profession. It has been challenging at times working with elected county officials, yet it has been deeply rewarding in the past 28 years-an experience to say the least.”
“I will miss my camaraderie with law enforcement and public safety professionals at 3 levels of government including Mexico. I will deeply miss my law enforcement family, community, hosting college students, human rights advocates, and professionals from all over the world through the State Department. I will miss my working relationships with 14 county sheriffs in Arizona and throughout the nation.”
“I wish my successor the best of luck. I would like to ask the community to be supportive of him. Our leaders not only shape our nations, but our communities too. We need a good leader to help guide us and make the essential large-scale decisions that keep our community moving.”
“My recommendation for my successor is to be an ambassador for the profession. It is a tremendous responsibility as the chief law enforcement of this county. Be a leader, and a mentor to your staff. Treat your employees with fairness and respect. Listen to their voice. Hold them accountable. Always fight for the common good as we are now facing unprecedented times.
My journey has been filled with lessons, hardships, heartaches, joys, celebrations and special moments which have ultimately led me to my destination. Farewell to my beloved law enforcement family , stay safe, stay healthy-God Bless you all and thank you I am forever grateful for your support,” said Sheriff Tony Estrada.
A Nogales native Greta Solinap Peng, MD Pediatrics is making waves across the healthcare field. She was recently recognized for her work in the healthcare field by SEAHEC. “My experiences with SEAHEC made a huge impression on me and I carried those lessons with me throughout my college years as I made decisions about my career path. I would like to serve in underserved communities throughout my career. I aspire to have genuine, caring, and long-term relationships with my patients. Much of my volunteering time between college and medical school was spent with under-resourced communities, whether in the rural islands of the Philippines or in the inner-city streets of Providence. I hope to bring high-quality, specialized, and community-oriented neurologic care to children that have little to no access to this type of medical care,” said Greta Solinap Peng, MD.
Greta truly stands out as exemplary among a group of tremendously talented peers in the healthcare field. It was with great pride that her department nominated her for this year’s Krevans Award. She is an intern in pediatrics, with plans to become a pediatric neurologist. Greta recently graduated from Alpert Medical School of Brown University, where she co-led the Advanced Medical Spanish elective, served on the board of the Latino Medical Students Association (LMSA), and focused on global health research. She graduated from Harvard College in 2013 with a degree in the History of Science and a minor in Neurobiology.
“It is a beautiful calling and privilege to be able to partake in some of people’s deepest life experiences,”stated Dr. Solinap Peng
Chief of Police Roy Bermudez is this month’s people that “echo.” Bermudez has been working for the Nogales Police Department for 36 years. He progressively advanced through the ranks until he was offered the position of Chief of Police in October of 2017. A prime example of how hard work, dedication, passion, and education can help one achieve their goals in life.
“I always dreamed of working as a police officer and in particular with the Nogales Police Department. My entire adult life has been with this agency and serving this community. My motto is “service before self.” My responsibility as chief of police is to ensure the safety of the public. I have always enjoyed working in public service. I deeply believe that in this line of work, one has to treat community members and anyone we come in contact with respect, empathy, and professionalism. This field of work can be gratifying as you notice the difference you make in people’s lives. Even though most of the time the interactions we might experience with the public can be a critical one, it can also be a humbling experience for us,”said Bermudez.
Chief Bermudez was born in Nogales, Sonora Mexico. He became a Naturalized United States Citizen at the age of 18. Bermudez was raised in Nogales, Arizona. He attended local public schools from kindergarten to high school and graduated from Nogales High School in 1984.
“One thing I enjoy about my line of work is making a difference in people’s lives, whether it’s a community member, student, visitor or an employee. My goal is to enhance their quality of life by helping them succeed both personally or professionally. I want to transform our department into a model agency that is service oriented by utilizing the latest technology, being always receptive towards innovative ideas, and implementing community oriented policing strategies,” said Chief Bermudez.
Communication is extremely important. Chief Bermudez tries to make himself accessible to his employees but also to the public. He was one of the individuals who spear-headed the program “coffee with a cop” while working as a commander. He felt it was important to open that line of communication between public and law enforcement. The chief has always been involved in the community. He currently holds several board positions within the non-profit and public safety sector. Bermudez makes himself accessible to the public and enjoys hearing public input about the department as it helps to reinforce the idea that NPD is part of the community.
“I strongly believe that education is the foundation of life and the cornerstone of professionalism. Education transforms us into critical thinkers and better decision makers based on the totality of the circumstances that we encounter. Education has transformed my life into what it is right now, and helped me to set an example to my department, community and children.Persistence coupled with education assist us in overcoming any barriers in our professional and personal lives,”stated Bermudez.
People that "echo"-Sheriff Tony Estrada
“As you know I will be retiring by the end of this term. I would like to take a second to thank each and every one of my employees for helping to create such a satisfying and pleasant work environment over the last 28 years. I am humbled for the opportunity I had to serve my constituents all these years. I want to thank the community for their endless support throughout the years, said Sheriff Tony Estrada.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such a great team of professionals. These law enforcement officers have worked by my side for years, they are dedicated and loyal staff, we are a family. I am honored to be the only Hispanic sheriff in Arizona and currently the longest serving sheriff in the state. I never dreamed that someone with my humble background would serve in such a prestigious profession,” said Estrada.
My accomplishments while in office have always been “a team effort.” A major accomplishment was putting Santa Cruz County on the map. We have been able to address the illegal flow of drugs and lowered the crime rate. Santa Cruz County has one of the most secure borders. “The crime rate here is extremely low, people are safe to walk our streets at night, we take great pride in knowing our community is a safe place for our citizens and visitors. We improved working relationships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies including Mexico.
On January 1, 1993, when I was first sworn into office I started working on building a professional organization through recruiting and vetting applicants looking for the best candidates. We currently have a great command center with a team of highly trained professionals. Another major accomplishment was being able to work with county staff to help build and establish a modern sheriff headquarters. I am honored to have it named after me.
When I first started working as a sheriff I was concerned by the size and age of the jail, where over 130 inmates were being held with a maximum capacity of 52. Now we have a large detention center, administration offices, patrol, including a support division staff, a modern dispatch and state of the art 911-center. These things were not available when I first walked into this position. Whoever walks into this position in 2021, will have everything they need to succeed. The new sheriff will walk into a headquarters they can be proud of and feel comfortable being a part of.
“Since I took office the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office has grown into an exceptional law enforcement agency in Southern Arizona. As sheriff, I have tailored law enforcement and policies to meet the needs of our county residents. I have been an ambassador for public safety. It is important for our border community to feel safe. It has always been my goal as a public servant to keep the public safe,” said Estrada.
Other accomplishments included establishing the law enforcement assist team volunteer program. In 1994, we established the first school resource officer at Rio Rico High School. We have established an excellent working relationship with the news media. We are the only law enforcement organizations along the border to have hosted professionals from more than 50 countries around the world on the best law enforcement practices. I demonstrate our law enforcement practices that help to keep our border secure.
“Our headquarters has hosted humanitarian, environmental and college groups on immigration and border issues. I am very fortunate as I had the opportunity to meet the Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, Secretary of Homeland Security and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, former Arizona Governor Raul Castro, congressman, senators and sheriffs from Arizona and throughout the country, including the philanthropist Howard Buffet,” said Estrada.
Sheriff Tony Estrada will retire after 53 years in law enforcement. He will be completing his last term in office this year. For the first time in five-decades, he will have the opportunity to live his life as a private citizen. His plan is to enjoy quality time with family and friends. He hopes to do some travel, play golf, bowl and exercise, so he can continue to stay healthy.
Estrada will continue to serve in clubs and organizations. He has been a spokesperson for three-decades for United Way. A member of the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Boys & Girls Club and the F.O.P. since 1966. According to Sheriff Estrada he will continue to support organizations by giving back financially to charitable organizations within the community.
“I currently don’t plan at this time to endorse any candidate as I know and have a good relationship with each of those candidates. My advice to my predecessor is always conduct yourself with honor, commitment, and transparency. It is important to always be involved in the community. Those relationships are extremely important. In order to be successful in this profession, one has to have a vision and passion for it. Always be a mentor, loyal, and dedicated to your employees, while at the same time holding them accountable. I am looking forward to a new transition and a new chapter in my life,” said Estrada.
People that "echo"-Jeffrey Sargent
This month Border Eco is proud to introduce Fire Chief Jeffrey Sargent as one one individual that “echoes” in Santa Cruz County. He has been working in the field of public service since February of 1990. Sargent was born in Oak Lawn, Illinois. He was raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He attended Phoenix College and the University of Phoenix.
“One thing that attracted me to Santa Cruz County was its potential. I have
been in Arizona for a long time, I also spent a little time in Washington but
basically grew up here. I was looking for a place to land where my skills
could be utilized and where I can contribute,” said Sargent.
Fire Chief Jefferey Sargent provides oversight and direction to the City of Nogales Fire Department. His main function is to ensure the safety of the fire fighters and the public while being transparent, fiscally responsible and adhering to the local state and federal rules and regulations pertaining to fire and ems services.
“The people here in Santa Cruz County are great. I have a great staff and the
folks who interviewed me for this position were actual employees.
There is a lot of potential here. I was looking for a small place where I can
Contribute my skills. I like small communities. I feel I can make an impact,”
This type of work is exceptionally rewarding but does have a tendency to leave lasting scars. It leaves you with the knowledge that life is not a given and can be incredibly unpredictable and short, so enjoy the time you have and always let your family know you love them.
This line of work is not easy and has a personal impact on your health such as stress, missed family events, and personal safety risks including cancer. Before considering a job as a firefighter you have to really know what you are getting into but that feeling of knowing your actions made a positive impact on a person's future is one of the best feelings in the world.
My future plans are to work out the rest of my career here in Nogales.
I plan to retire and pursue my hobby of blacksmith and play with my future grandchildren.
This month Border Eco selected Liza Montiel for people who “echo” in Santa Cruz County. A woman from humble beginnings who has dedicated herself to public service and inspiring future generations.
Liza Montiel was born and raised in Nogales. She attended our public schools and left for a couple of years to attend college and travel.
“Nogales has always been my home to me and my family. It provided the public education and resources I needed to excel and prosper in other areas of my life. Nogales afforded both my husband, Roberto Montiel, Retired Superior Court Judge, a place to retire peacefully. As a retired administrator and teacher, I have the skills, experience, and preparation to advocate for working families to have better access to economic opportunity for everyone. This experience, along with my concern for the people of our city, is primarily what is inspiring me to run for office,” said Liza Montiel.
We want to see dynamic, sustainable changes and much-needed collaboration; we can accomplish much more if we collectively work together and continue to form productive relationships for the benefit of the citizens of Nogales.
“Serving on the City Council would be for me an ultimate act of service. I have the time to commit, and the passion to bring significant value to the position. I am one to keep the vision in mind and work towards it as a team member who is confident in my voice while listening to and respecting others’ perspectives,” said City Council Candidate Montiel.
She also had the opportunity to learn first-hand about the City Hall's government as an administrative assistant to the Mayor’s office. “I observed in-depth the immense challenges our leaders face, but I also learned that the involvement and input of the business industry are vital to the success of our city. I am ready and willing to strongly advocate for the employees and the entire community of Nogales,” said City Council Candidate Montiel.
As Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States once said, “I stand on the shoulders of countless people.” I stood there and stood on the shoulders of many people too. Everyone has that one person(s) in their life that we look up to but some people are more apparent in our lives. Both my husband and daughter have been the 2 people that have inspired me the most. Both have been there for me since day one, well actually even before that! My daughter, Greta is a medical doctor, (pediatric neurologist), who has encouraged me to continue to serve my community in spite of the challenges one faces in politics. She inspires me to have the courage and serve others. And my husband, Roberto, is my pillar; his enthusiasm and immense energy gave me the determination to run for the City Council. He is my driving force and repeatedly reminds me to “keep above the small petty stuff” and to always give a part of yourself to others without expecting nothing in return.
“My goal is to inspire our young people in Santa Cruz County to get involved in our democracy. We need to inspire future generations if we really want to see a change,” said City Council Candidate Montiel.
I am trusting and I’m positive our community will get involved in our local democracy. It is vital that people have a say in what happens and what is decided at City Hall. I am also hopeful for our citizens including our young people, our future leaders, want to see different faces with innovative ideas to move Nogales forward. We all listen on a daily basis about the needs and concerns of our community so voting is one way to make our leaders accountable. The decisions we make today will affect our everyday life. I am working hard along with our committee (Montiel for City Council ) to actively involve our community to vote and participate in our government system.
I am hopeful the City of Nogales will allow me the humble opportunity to serve them. If interested in being a part of our campaign please contact me directly at 520.371.8159
This month Border Eco Magazine pays tribute to the legacy of Anna Maria Coppola for her lasting contributions to serving children and adults with disabilities in Santa Cruz County.
Anna Maria Coppola lived her life in such a way that she will be remembered for her advocacy, kindness, and compassion towards individuals with disabilities. She found her purpose in life.
On Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, services were held for Anna Maria Coppola at Sacred Heart Church at 2 p.m. followed by a celebration of her life at the Santa Cruz Training Programs.
Relentlessly driven by love and compassion for a then underserved group in our community, Anna Maria and a handful of determined women established the Santa Cruz Training Programs “La Escuelita” in 1968 for people with disabilities. She was 43 at the time.
By then, she and her husband had brought eight children into this world, one of them was diagnosed with a learning disability. That sweet beady-eyed boy, “Nayito,” inspired her mission to ensure special needs people in Ambos Nogales would have a safe and warm place to be active and become productive members of society to the best of their abilities.
Forty-three years later that ongoing mission earned her a spot on prestigious Arizona’s 48 “Most Intriguing Women” list as part of the Arizona Centennial Legacy Project. While flattered she was not one to lavish in special recognition for what became her life’s passion. She didn’t attend the awards ceremony. She sent her eight very proud children instead.
Anna Maria or “Baby” as she was endearingly nicknamed, died on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. She was 94.
We remain “intrigued” by mom, especially now as people from all walks of life have come forth to express how she helped them on a personal level in a multitude of ways, materially, emotionally and spiritually. To say she was giving is an understatement.
Until the end, Anna Maria remained on the board of directors of the Santa Cruz Training Programs, a pillar of wisdom and a guiding light to keep the course of serving SCTP participants whom, she was convinced, earned their angel wings the moment they were conceived. What a noble mission indeed for those who carry on her legacy.
Anna Maria was an active member of the Catholic Daughters of America, the Altrusa Club, and was a member of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church Finance Committee. Among her other jobs, she worked for U.S. Customs Service and Citizens Utilities Co.
She was born Anna Maria Bonorand on Oct. 21, 1924, in Nogales to Arcelia and Manuel Bonorand, who was a local customs broker.
She was predeceased in 2005 by her husband of 59 years, Leonardo B. Coppola. She is survived by her daughters Ana Patricia (David) Kemp; Michele Cecilia (Fred) Mahler; Maria Elena (Miguel) Dominguez and Marina Berta (Thomas) Galhouse; sons Leonardo Manuel Coppola; Jose Antonio (Cheri) Coppola; Ygnacio Arturo (Jane) Coppola and Manuel C. Coppola (Irene); brother Manuel Ernesto Bonorand; 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
This month’s editorial for the people that “echo” in Santa Cruz County selected Nisa Talavera Last month, she was one of the key players that helped to bring the Jessie Lewis Choose Love Enrichment Program to Santa Cruz County. Nisa Talavera and Heidi Pottinger both founded the local non-profit organization CHARM (Child Health and Resilience Mastery). The mission of the non-profit is to empower children and families to strengthen their resilience in health-promoting ways.
CHARM has partnered with the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Enrichment Program.
The “ Choose Love” movement was introduced to the community by CHARM (Child Health and Resilience Mastery). The “Choose Love” global movement started after Scarlett’s 6-year-old son Jesse was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. Scarlett Lewis is nationally recognized for her global movement teaching “Nurturing, Healing, Love” to help create safer schools and communities. This global movement is in all 50 states and in DC, as well as 80 plus countries worldwide.
“We were excited to bring the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Enrichment Program to Arizona! It has been by far one of my most treasured accomplishments. We are now the Arizona Ambassadors for Choose Love and I could not be more thrilled about all of the progress we have made here in Santa Cruz County. As a resident, mother and business owner in Santa Cruz County, I'm so pleased to know that our community was able to receive this amazing gift,” said Nisa Talavera Co-founder and Vice Chairman of CHARM.
This unique program was introduced to Superintendent Kathy Romero at Little Red School House. Ms. Romero immediately was on board with the program. She was a key factor in implementing the program across the entire school (K-8). Little Red School was the first pilot school in Arizona for the program.
Nisa, Heidi, and Kathy spent a lot of time presenting the program to county officials, Nogales Rotary Club, Lions Club, and the Mariposa Community Health Centers. “The old saying It takes a village to raise a child”, nothing could be more accurate. Every child belongs to us as a community. The responsibility to help and teach our children to be resilient belongs to each of us,” said Nisa.
“Everyone has been amazed and excited about the program and have been looking for ways to implement it. The County Superintendent Alfredo Velasquez was one of our first stops. He has been instrumental in assisting us to spread the word with all the county educators. We were invited to and spoke at the monthly SI meeting hosted at the county building. From that meeting, we have received several requests from other schools to come and present specifically to their own district teachers. The response has been amazing! I truly believe this is a gift for our community. The Choose Love Enrichment Program is a comprehensive, NO COST, program that we all can learn and benefit from. It is like no other that I have seen before. Our goal is to hopefully have EACH and EVERY school in Santa Cruz County CHOOSING LOVE,” said Nisa.
About 5 years ago, Nisa Talavera and her daughters moved to Nogales, so she could be close to her parents who were battling cancer. After her parents passed away, she made the decision to take over her parent’s business the Hacienda Corona B&B. It is a thriving bed & breakfast and event venue inside the Guevavi Ranch. Nisa Talavera found a place of peace and happiness for herself and children that they share with the community.
“ It has not always been easy, and it still presents its challenges each day, but it is by far one the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. I’m working harder now in my life than I ever have before, but it’s worth it when it is yours.
I have love in my life and a wonderful support system around here,” said Nisa Talavera.
“I am deeply grateful to our community for their overwhelming support. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. A special thank you to Alfredo Velasquez Santa Cruz County Superintendent and his office for their unwavering support. I would also like to thank Kathy Romero Superintendent and everyone at Little Red School. The teachers work tirelessly to create a loving and safe place where children can thrive and learn.
Thank you to my beautiful family, Mina, Rayne, and Jeffrey for always showing love. Thank you, Heidi Pottinger, for being my partner in crime,” said Talavera.