For this year's person of the year in Santa Cruz County who echos, we selected Noemi Elizalde. Mrs. Elizalde is passionate about helping domestic violence survivors. Over the years, her passion for public service has been noted. Trauma survivors and their families are still in need of help, so she continues to provide them with services to help them recover.
It was in 2021 that she accepted a position with the Children's Advocacy Center as Coordinator of the Mobile Advocacy Program. The position enabled her to continue the collaboration with Santa Cruz County and provide services to rural communities. In addition to providing her with opportunities to grow, the experience also allowed her to serve the community. As part of her role, she facilitates the provision of services for victims and witnesses, as well as identifying funding opportunities and training opportunities.
“Working with the community, and in particular with our partners, has been an incredible experience. Each partner has contributed to the success of the Family Safety Center. Mariposa Community Health Center gave me the opportunity to begin this advocacy journey in 2013. My growth in this field would not have been possible without their constant support throughout the years," said Noemi Elizalde, coordinator of the Children's Advocacy Center.
As a victim advocate, Elizade is passionate about helping her community. Bringing services to Santa Cruz County has always been her goal. Her strength has always been networking. We appreciate your commitment to public service and your collaboration with different agencies that can fill in any gaps in our community.
As the event of the year for 2022, Border Eco selected the Santa Cruz County Mental Health Awareness Summit. Honorable Judge Emilio Velasquez spearheaded the summit at the Santa Cruz County Complex as part of his ongoing substance abuse and mental health programs. Congratulations to the Justice of the Peace for leading the way to a new era of judicial oversight. In addition to being known for his kindness, fairness, and restorative justice approach, Honorable Judge Emilio Velasquez has brought together community systems to establish the only drug court in Arizona's lower courts, as well as his "Behavioral Empowerment Court," which addresses mental health and substance abuse issues for his defendants and families. A compassionate, fair, and supportive court has served the community well by providing treatment, community programming, and equitable support to defendants and their families.
Although he has courtroom experience, Judge Velasquez is most recognized for his work off the bench. He founded and leads a coalition to solve local problems. The honorable Emilio Velasquez, Justice of the Peace of Santa Cruz County, was honored by David's Hope, an Arizona Mental Health Criminal Justice Coalition for his outstanding accomplishments in Mental Health Criminal Justice Collaboration.
The Santa Cruz County Justice Peace is recognized for his dedication to mental health awareness. He has led the conversation in our community about the importance of providing treatment, collaborating with community partners and supporting those suffering from substance abuse or mental illness through his hard work and dedication.
As a member of our community, you proved to us what a valuable asset you are!
This year, selecting a candidate for this category proved challenging. At Border Eco, we believe everyone we featured for people who echo in Santa Cruz County is unique and special in their own way. We believe education professionals go above and beyond their profession to help educate our children, youth, and community. As a team, we considered Los Padres Director Georgina Parra to be a rising star in Santa Cruz County.
Georgina Parra comes from a family who has dedicated itself to public service. In addition to her mother being a schoolteacher, her father was involved in politics his entire life. “My parents inspired me to pursue my calling of public service. They taught me to care about my community,” said Program Director Georgina Parra.
Her youngest sister, Regina Romero, is the mayor of Tucson, and her older sister Maricruz Ruiz is a program coordinator at Pima Community College. The idea of making a difference by getting involved in the community has always been instilled in me by my parents. Throughout our lives, they have encouraged us to care about our community by doing something that will help make it a better place.
The most important accomplishment of my career has been the opportunity to grow professionally. At Child & Family Resource Center, I began my career as a family child support specialist. Over the past 20 years, I’ve advanced my career and now hold the position of director. It is impossible to overstate the importance of going to school and completing school. I recently earned an associate’s degree in my field of study, which is very important to me.
Working with children and families in the community has always been my passion. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. My current employer is the Superintendent’s office. I work with an organization that helps the community in a number of ways. Our next step for us is to form a father-parent support group.
Los Padres plays an important role in our community. The purpose of our program is to educate parents, especially young parents, about how their child develops.Los Padres son los primeros maestros that is the full name of our program. This encapsulates the main purpose of this program is to help parents learn how to be their child’s first teachers by teaching them from the womb and later on learning about all the areas of growth and development helping the child obtain their best
potential so they can be ready for the world.
The program aims to teach parents the importance of being involved in their child’s development. Families are encouraged to participate in a new home visitation program that focuses on parent-child interaction. Providing parents with resources and strategies for teaching their children through play. Families with newborns to four-year-olds can participate in our program. According to the program director, teens, first-time parents, grandparents raising grandchildren, and court-appointed guardians can benefit from the program.
Pimeria Alta is the historical society and museum operated by the board of trustees. For over 122 years, it has been an important part of our community. The PAHS was founded in 1948 by twenty-eight concerned citizens to preserve the culture and history of Ambos Nogales. It is with much pleasure that we announce Pimeria Alta as this year's organization of the year. We have continued to benefit from your presence in our community.
Despite its age, the Museum is still open five days a week. Many visitors come from Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, but also from other states. Tourists from around the world also visit.
Pimeria Alta Historical Society President Christine Courtland states, "Non-profit organizations face daunting challenges, but I hope to use my communication and organizational skills to stimulate community interest and participation."
We benefit from Pimeria Alta's efforts to preserve Ambos Nogales' culture and history. Among the functions of this organization are research, collection, conservation, interpretation, and exposition. Keeping the museum open to the public, accessible, and inclusive encourages diversity and sustainability. In addition to preserving our culture, Pimeria Alta is also an educational institution.
Although challenges arose during the pandemic, the museum held its first exhibit, "Historic Salute to Nogales Buffalo Soldiers," in January 2022. This exhibit featured WWI uniforms worn by Buffalo Soldiers and a collage of early gravestones.
A historic salute to the Nogales Buffalo Soldiers was held by the Nogales Buffalo Soldiers Legacy Association. Besides keeping our community connected to its heritage, the Pimeria Alta Museum has served as a source of information for our community.
Your dedication to preserving our cultural heritage speaks volumes about your commitment to our community. You have served our community for many years and we cannot express our gratitude enough. There are so many things to discover at Pimeria Alta Historical Society.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Weatherbie, this year she was selected for our editorial for people who "echo" in Santa Cruz County. Elizabeth is artistic and passionate about the arts. Her passion for the arts has led Weatherbie to go to great lengths to engage the public.
Patrons of the Arts, Inc., also known as Hilltop Gallery, is a nonprofit organization headed by Elizabeth Weatherbie. In addition to accounting, she also coordinates events and manages the social media accounts for the organization.
“Considering how many behind-the-scenes duties are handled every day, it's difficult to pinpoint one key role within the organization. I mostly make sure everything gets done and on time," said Weatherbie. Elizabeth is a pioneer of the arts who brings passion and dedication to everything she does throughout her career.
“ My passion for the arts is helping the community come together in many ways whether it’s through painting, music or just art appreciation. I would like to continue to help unite our community in these artistic endeavors. Hilltop Gallery is the only nonprofit art venue in our community. We encourage the arts on all levels and with all ages. We have branched out to not just be visual arts, but to include the performing arts, as well. We also offer art classes to all ages,” said the Executive Vice President. We appreciate your dedication to the arts.
Congratulations to the Santa Cruz County Superintendent’s Office as they were selected this year for hosting the event of the year! Read Across America is an event that takes place every year within our county. Reading across America is an annual event in which Patricia Barraza, from the superintendent's office, invites over 70 to 90 volunteers to read to every public, private and charter school classroom in the county. "It is incredible to see how important student and adult interaction is during these reading sessions. This year was a little tricky to coordinate because of Covid. We had to conduct the readings in the classrooms virtually. It was so nice to see that even though we were faced with a pandemic and challenges, we still had over 75 volunteers for our event and the students were so pleased to have the guests in their virtual classrooms.”
“These wonderful folks make it possible to be able to provide prizes, trophies, cash rewards and a wonderful reception for our nominees. I am also in charge of hosting the day in which we select our Teacher of the Year. It’s a tedious challenging event and one of the largest ones in the County but it’s so rewarding to see how happy our incredible educators are at the end of the night,” said Barraza.
Patricia organizes the Annual Santa Cruz County Teacher of the Year Awards and Dinner event. It takes seven months to plan it from day one to the day of the event. She first starts with the Kick-off Breakfast, which is mostly a notice to sponsors, donors and school administrators that they are starting with the process of honoring our educators. Barraza is also responsible for seeking sponsors and donors for the event. Thank you for going above and beyond to keep our schools, educators and community connected! The Santa Cruz County Superintendent’s Office kept working throughout the pandemic. Your office proved to be true heroes throughout this pandemic. You showed us how valuable you all are to our community!
It was difficult to select a candidate for this particular category. Everyone we featured for people who “echo” in Santa Cruz County is unique in their field and own way! We felt as a team people who work in the healthcare industry have gone above and beyond to keep us healthy these past couple of years. As a team we felt, Senior Director of Community Health Services at Mariposa Community Health Center in Nogales, Arizona known to the community as Platicamos Salud (We Talk Health).
Platicamos Salud is an important extension of Mariposa’s clinical services, connecting referred patients to additional education, support and follow-up that is culturally competent and language appropriate. Offering a variety of ongoing health education classes for all community members in locations easily accessible. Platicamos Salud also provides a critical link to the community via its community-based services that partner with other health and social services to serve families and create systems change.
Molina began her employment at Mariposa in 2004 assisting the Director of Platicamos Salud at that time, Jo Jean Elenes. Within 8 months of her employment, she was promoted to Prevention Manager. During her employment with Mariposa, and prior public health experience working with the Border Health Foundation, she developed and managed federal, state and foundation funded community-based programs at the US-Mexico border.
Patty manages 34 staff members at the Mariposa Community Health Services. At the two story Sierra building, they have the Health & Social Services staff under the management leadership of Yara Castro. Castro primarily manages the women's programs such as the Well Woman Health Check, Maternal & Child Health and Patient Advocacy.
She has implemented numerous health education programs on breast cancer, diabetes, physical activity and nutrition, HIV/AIDS, tobacco use prevention, asthma, environmental health and maternal child health. Molina designed education and training materials on public and preventative health issues, while establishing numerous community-based projects.
Mrs. Molina facilitated the development of project organizational structure and leadership. She facilitated group processes among community members to help identify needs, gaps in service, existing resources and response strategies. She also serves as the lead in various research projects at Mariposa Community Health Center.
An initiative she is currently working is helping to manage the pandemic, while continuing to provide the best care. “Our goal is to keep our patients safe, this continues to be our main priority. We are working closely with our local health department to ensure vaccination to all who wish to receive it while continuing to educate on the importance of keeping themselves safe regardless of having received the vaccine. We continue to encourage people to get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash their hands and practice social distance,” said Molina.
This why we felt as a team that Mrs. Molina is a rising star in the healthcare industry. Congratulations! We wish you continued success. You showed us how valuable you all are to our community!
Congratulations to Lutheran Social Service for being selected as the organization of the year! Our community has continued to benefit from the services and support provided last year by your organization. Despite the pandemic, your organization continued to provide in-home care. Your organization has gone beyond helping those who cannot care for themselves.
"We put our heart into what we do. Many of our Direct Care Workers have worked with us for more than 15 years. We have an excellent team. The purpose of my position is to support the staff in their work, to connect with the community, and to help people in need. “I enjoy making friends in the community and bringing people together,” said Linda Manjarrez Director of Aging & Disability Services.
“Our care coordinators make sure to find providers for each referral we get, and of course, to make sure they are a good match. We make sure our clients get the service they need with a worker who provides the best care for them. Our Direct Care Workers provide a variety of services to people in their homes, including personal care, housekeeping services, and so much more” said the Director of Aging & Disability Services.
Lutheran Social Services adjusted to the pandemic by keeping their hours of operation and putting new safety measures in place. We appreciate everything you have done for our vulnerable population throughout this past year. You are and will continue to be "heroes."
Congratulations to Superintendent Alfredo I. Velásquez, he was selected for our editorial for people who “echo” of the year in Santa Cruz County. In October of last year, he was awarded by the Southern Arizona Association for the Educator of Young Children Award (SAZAEYC) for his work in strengthening connections between families, educators, and the community. He has a passion to provide every student the opportunity to succeed academically while preparing them for the challenges and opportunities life brings. Alfredo is a pioneer of education who brings passion and dedication to everything he does throughout his career.
Congratulations to our schools, school staff, and teachers for being selected as having hosted the most memorable event of the year school graduations! The heartache could be felt across Santa Cruz County as the Class of 2020, would not have an opportunity to experience a graduation ceremony like previous generations. Never did they imagine their graduation ceremony would have to be a virtual or graduation parades. Graduates this past year, learned they would not be able to hug their classmates, teachers, or family members who traditionally cheer them from the stands as they receive their diplomas.
Instead, Santa Cruz County schools across the county had to think of creative ways to celebrate graduations where only the graduates and a few family members were allowed to attend the graduation. Some family members had to stay in their vehicles or stand by their vehicles.
Memories of the years flowed with tears and cheers for the graduates, as their families and school staff celebrated the Class of 2020! It was a bitter-sweet experience, as no hugs or shake hands were allowed but this did not keep those in attendance from cheering the graduates, which made up for the lack of touch. Thank you for going above and beyond to teach and still stay connected with students! School staff, and teachers proved to be the true heroes throughout this pandemic. You showed us how valuable you all are to our community!
Congratulations Community Food in Nogales for being selected as the organization of the year! Last year, your organization hosted along with the government and private sector food drives to help residents across Santa Cruz County struggling financially. The Community Food Bank in Nogales adjusted their hours of operation and put new procedures in place to keep everyone safe. Your organization has also implemented important safety measures for food distribution. You are and will continue to be our “silent heroes.” We deeply appreciate everything you have done for our community throughout this past year.
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