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Community leaders to be honored
By Julie Filby
Las Madrinas Tribute
What: Brunch, awards ceremony, silent and live auctions
The seventh annual Las Madrinas Tribute is set for 11 a.m. May 15 at Centro San Juan Diego in Denver. The tribute will honor leaders in the Hispanic community that personify the spirit of “La Madrina” (godmother) through their dedicated service to the community.
The event is a fundraiser for Bienestar Family Services, the branch of the Denver Archdiocese’s Hispanic ministry that serves low-income individuals and families through support services; leadership programs; and adult education such as citizenship preparation, GED classes, computer training, English classes, small business and finance courses.
Six individuals will be honored this year.
Female role models who demonstrate untiring dedication
Christine Benero is president and chief executive officer of Mile High United Way. She was instrumental in connecting Centro San Juan Diego with Mile High United Way. Benero previously served as chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Mile High Chapter, director of the Office of Public Liaison for the Corporation for National Service, vice president of the National Civic League and Community Affairs Corporate Program Officer for the Target Foundation. In her volunteer work, she has served the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Governor’s Commission on National and Community Service, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Leadership Foundation, National Civic League, Community Wealth Ventures, Denver Department of Human Services, and Denver Homeless Commission. She was named the 9News Leader of the Year for 2007, and a 2010 Woman of Distinction by Girl Scouts of Colorado.
Olga Garcia was formerly manager of diversity for Molson Coors Brewing Company, where she developed programs to attract, retain and develop women and multi-ethnic employees for the company. Garcia has volunteered with Bienestar Family Services since 1998 as an advising advocate for potential donors, including support from Coors Brewing Company when establishing Centro San Juan Diego. She has received honors from the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, National Hispana Leadership Institute, National Hispanic Corporate Council; and holds several positions on national and local community boards of directors. She is a trustee of the Museo de las Americas museum of Latino arts and of Colorado Academy.
Marisol Villagomez was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. She and her family moved to Denver when she was 5. Currently, she is an assistant in advertising, marketing and publications for the Colorado Rockies. She has volunteered at Centro San Juan Diego for various projects and as a planning committee member with the Las Madrinas Tribute. She has also volunteered with the Boys & Girls Club, MANA’s Hermanitas mentor program and various local organizations serving the Hispanic community. Villagomez is pursing a master’s degree in organization leadership from Regis University. Organizers said she exemplifies leadership skills as an upcoming Latina that is needed in continuing the legacy of the first Madrina recipients.
Rebozo (shawl) Award
One who offers personal and financial resources to embrace Bienestar program
Fernando Sergio is a radio host for KBNO-AM 1280 and one of the most accomplished Spanish broadcasters in Colorado media. His talk show “La Voz Del Pueblo” serves Hispanic consumers by helping them make educated decisions on issues such as immigration, insurance and health. He is also the Spanish voice of the Denver Broncos. Since the inception of Bienestar Family Services, representatives from KBNO have donated air time each week to announce upcoming events and classes at Bienestar to the Spanish-speaking community. This promotion has been instrumental in the number of people served, particularly for Legal Night clinics. Sergio also spends time reaching out to disadvantaged youth, pediatric cancer patients and various non-profit organizations that aid at-risk youth.
Corazón (heart) Award
One who volunteers with love and dedication
Sandra Muñoz is an instructor with Plaza Comunitaria, a program of Bienestar Family Services, where she teaches students to read and write Spanish. She has volunteered with Centro San Juan Diego since its inception; and prior to that at Centro Bienestar at St. Joseph’s Parish. In addition to teaching, she provides administrative, promotional and fundraising support to Centro for the annual Las Madrinas Tribute, toy drives, and Archbishop Gomez Gala. She also volunteers with the archdiocese’s Spanish newspaper El Pueblo Catolico and Office of Hispanic Ministry. Originally born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she has been married 22 years to Jose de Jesus Robles. The couple has two daughters. Munoz and her family have always shown a love and dedication to the Church through their volunteer work with Church and community activities.
Estrella (star) Award
A volunteer who shines brightly for his or her community efforts
Peter Droege is vice president for communications for the Daniels Fund, whose grants and scholarship programs have awarded more than $377 million since 2000. Droege served as co-chair for the annual Archbishop Gomez Gala. Prior to serving at the Daniels Fund, he was executive director of the Solidarity Institute that provides educational opportunities for at-risk students; and was editor of the Denver Catholic Register. He also oversaw the launch of the archdiocese’s Spanish newspaper El Pueblo Católico. Droege demonstrates a genuine interest and care for the community and has specifically given of his time and talent to Centro San Juan Diego, which has served nearly 30,000 Spanish-speaking immigrants.
The Las Madrinas Tribute will be held at Centro San Juan Diego, 2830 Lawrence St., the historic former Sacred Heart School. Cost is $50 per person.
Donations such as art, jewelry and gift certificates are welcomed for the auction.