La Prensa Hispana Newspaper Latino Community Central

2009 Selection of noteworthy Latino /Hispanic Contributors

David Moya

La Prensa Hispana

Throughout the year of 2009, individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations have come to the forefront and excelled in service to the Latino community. La Prensa Hispana Newspaper has been honored to have been named as the “Latino Community Central for the Coachella Valley ” by Eastern Group Publications, a ten Hispanic newspaper union in Los Angeles , County.

As a pay it forward response, La Prensa Hispana has selected the real movers in the Coachella Valley Latino community. Selections are made based on real actions of these individuals and organizations, exemplified in 2009. There are seven categories’; Individual honoree, political community partner, entrepreneur of the year, non-profit category, small business, large business and best entertainment.

Individual Honors –

Father Eliseo Lucas

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church

Mecca, California

Father Lucas has established himself in Mecca as a spiritual guide whose heart is embedded in the Latino community. After his church was literally cracked open to the point of real danger by nearby fault line settlement, Father Lucas brought the poor rural area of Mecca together. With raffles, Sunday celebrations, personal contributions from across the valley, Church Festivals and plenty of native foods provided by parishners for event sales. Mecca has rebuilt their cherished church, Santuario de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe and Father Lucas is once again at the altar instead of the stifling hot tent the faithful had dealt with for many months. Imagine a small tent serving over 4,000 worshipers each Sunday; many of whom stood outside so women and children could get a semblance of protection from a hot sun.

Father Lucas looks at every challenge as an opportunity and finds his unique way to serve his congregation and serve the Lord. In 2009, he was an inspiration to his congregation and all those who know him. Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church draws parishioners from across the valley and is the place to be every Sunday. Those who cherish the feeling of an old tradition country church, feel right at home with Father Lucas. For his contagious enthusiasm and natural ability to lead, Father Lucas is the 2009 Individual of the Year who has most assisted the local Latino community.

Political Community Partner – Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack

45th Congressional District

Unlike other politicians representing our community, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack has found the time to be present at many community functions personally. With the assistance of Claudia Suarez, her Field Representative, there has been no other politician who has been more visible and attentive to what the Latino community has to say. The bulk of our representatives decide what is best for us then argue their point of view in convincing us of what we need instead of asking.

Once elected, politicians acquire an air of royalty, it is refreshing to see our Congresswoman stop by our office, call and ask for community input or coming Latino events. She makes every effort to be there, if Congressional debate keeps her in Washington, Claudia Suarez her Field Representative attends and conveys messages personally to keep in touch with our community. Other politicians do not even answer their telephone let alone join the Latino community unless it is politically expedient for them; on a quest for their forthcoming election, they become visible only on election years. Election year or not, Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack is consistently visible in community. This sets her apart from the others and she has been selected as the Political Community Partner of 2009.

Non-Profit – Animal

Samaritans, SPCA, Inc.

1000 Palms, Ca.

Animal Samaritans is a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals since 1978. Animal Samaritans since its founding has been committed to eliminate euthanasia of adoptable animals. The organization which operates from donations and the nominal fees they collect for personal pet services from across the valley at their 1000 palms facility has been responsible for saving thousands of animals. In 2009 the organization has made a concentrated effort to address the overwhelming needs of the East Valley. Animal Samaritans has been in the forefront of trying to salvage hundreds of animals abandoned at the Duroville Trailer Park in Mecca. Hundreds of dogs and cats fend for themselves in abhorrent conditions. Animal Samaritans attempts to capture the animals, vaccinate them, sterilize them de tick them and find them good homes whenever possible. Some Animal Samaritan staff temporarily house animals when their shelter is full until space or adoptions are found. Animal Samaritans bought a specially equipped truck so they can service the East Valley until affordable facilities are found in the East Valley. A bilingual Humane Educator addresses community animal needs and gives classes to pet owners. Animal Samaritans partner with a variety of community organizations whenever there is the opportunity to expand animal care service. Animal Samaritans is helping resolve a continual problem for the East Valley community and mans best friends.

Large Business –

Augustine Casino

Coachella, Ca.

Augustine Casino is the only casino in the East Valley who draws almost exclusively from the locals. Locals patronize Augustine as a gathering place to socialize. Their buffet and restaurant are favorites especially for seniors. Certainly the penny slots are an attraction but by far, the friendly ambiance is the real reason locals head to Augustine Casino. This year, also as an additional treat for the children of locals, Augustine donated over 500 bicycles. Employees and volunteers spent many of their own hours putting all the pieces together and each bicycle included all the safety gear. After putting them all together, the parking lot looked like a bicycle factory with bicycles lined up as far as the eye could see. Augustine Casino assisted Martha’s Kitchen and Village and several other entities who sought assistance to serve the community.

Best Entertainment – “The Show” at the Agua Caliente Casino- Resort

Rancho Mirage, California

2009 was the year “The Show” became a synonym for big name talent. Latinos were addressed by bringing a wide cast of their favorite entertainers and a string of boxing talent many of which were local champions. The Show at the Agua Caliente Resort and Casino is reaching out to the local Latino community and we have noticed. It is heartwarming to know that a major player in Coachella Valley entertainment understands 50% of the Coachella Valley is Latino and is actively taking Latino entertainment interests into their schedule consideration.

Small Business – Don Gordo’s Launderland, Indio, Ca.

There are those who would question the selection of a launder mat as the small business of the year, unless you have lost your home in this 25 % unemployment stagnant economy or have had to sell your appliances. In 2009, there was a flood of individuals who suddenly found comfort in a launder mat open 24 hours a day where they can also get assistance to wash their clothes for a small fee. Don Gordo’s keeps a close watch on the community since 1992 and makes every effort to meet their basic rudimentary needs. Every time a customer used his facility in 2009, Don Gordo would issue them a raffle ticket. At the end of each month he would draw 15 tickets and in December, he selected one grand prize winner for a pick up truck while others get complimentary prizes. For most customers this is the only real opportunity to be a winner of a new vehicle for simply washing their clothes. One chance out of 180 is not bad odds. This December, the whole community seemed to be at Don Gordo’s for the drawing.