November 4, 2014 > Individuals make a difference
Individuals make a difference
Submitted By Tony Acosta
The Union City Human Relations Commission (HRC) presented its fourth annual Make a Difference in the Community awards on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at City Hall. The awards program recognized those in the community who, through their volunteer and/or vocational efforts, make a positive difference in the lives of others, thereby making Union City a better place in which to live, work, and play. Each awardee was nominated by an individual Human Relations Commissioner, and was presented an engraved plaque to commemorate their contributions to our community. This yearÕs awardees are:
Ana Lilia De Leon-Gonzalez
Mrs. De Leon-Gonzalez has over 20 years of experience working with populations suffering from mental illness, domestic violence, sexual abuse and breast cancer. In 2007, she joined Fremont Human Services Department to lead the Family Support Services Program, providing comprehensive case management and counseling services to families living in Fremont, Newark and Union City.
Fr. José M. León
Fr. Jose brought community organizing to Union City by co-founding Congregations Organizing for Renewal (COR). COR helped turn handball courts that attracted crime into a safe park, established after-school programs in public schools, provided apprenticeship training for young adults, supported affordable housing, held pre-elections candidate forums, and promoted Measure UU to fund the cityÕs Youth and Family Services and the Measure B parcel tax for Union City schools.
RashadÕs projects in Union City include collaboration with Youth and Family Services, Union City Recreational Center, the Union City Youth Commission, and KidsÕ Zone. Rashad is a young community leader who educates youth at James Logan High School about mental health awareness utilizing the Wellness Recovery Action Plan and National Alliance on Mental Illness program, Ending the Silence.
Marina is currently the president of St. Anne Seniors Association in Union City. She reaches out and encourages senior members to be active socially, morally, and spiritually. Marina recognizes and appreciates them in any kind of achievements they accomplished. She believed that it helps boost their morals, integrity, and esteem. It makes them more functional in society, but mostly to their families and St. Anne Parish community.
In 2004, Christopher was among community workers and teachers that started an early restorative justice program at James Logan High School that provided students with alternatives to traditional suspensions. In 2007, following the rise of youth-related violence in the community, he helped found the Union City Youth Violence Prevention Coalition (YVPC). The YVPC was successful in implementing Union CityÕs Youth and Family Services. He is now Filipino Advocates for JusticeÕs (FAJ) Youth Services Director and facilitates FAJÕs school-based programs at Alvarado Middle School and James Logan High School.
Elizabeth acted as a Union City Planning Commissioner in the mid-1990s. She has led the community and created projects in Union City through envisioning a separate pedestrian and cyclist pathway through Niles Canyon from Niles in Fremont to Sunol to improve safety and reduce the need for widening Niles Canyon scenic highway. She obtained East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) support and approval for an open space gateway and improved access from Union City into Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park District lands. She also educated community leaders and provided hillside tours with Greenbelt Alliance leading up to the Union City Hillside Area Plan adoption of the 1996 Measure II by Union City voters.
As executive director of FAJ, she started existing programming and work in Union City. Under her leadership, FAJ started youth development programs to youth in the New Haven Unified School District through support groups at both the high schools and middle schools as well as after-school groups. FAJÕs youth programming in Union City have been instrumental is addressing key issues in Union City, including violence prevention, civic engagement, and immigrant and worker rights and support.