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La Liga de Las Americas

Rudy Lira recipient of Adelante’s César Chávez Humanitarian Award


Throughout his lifetime struggle for social and civil justice for migrant and immigrant workers, César Chávez epitomized the obligation of citizens to contribute to the welfare of their communities. As a result, cities and states throughout the nation have designated March 31—Chávez’s birthday—as “César Chávez Day.”


Toledo City Council made such a resolution last week—a copy appeared on page 9 of the March 30, 2007 issue of La Prensa and also appears online Here. Hispanic Affairs Commissioner David Ibarra presented the resolution to Adelante, Inc. on behalf of Toledo City Council at its annual Chávez Awards Gala.

Rudy Lira


As a form of remembrance, Adelante, Inc.—a south end and Latino resource center located at 520 South Broadway in Toledo—hosted its Fourth Annual César Chávez Humanitarian Awards Gala on Friday, March 30, 2007.


Held at the Dana Convention Center on the medical campus of The University of Toledo, this event recognized several people as northwest Ohio Latino champions with three awards: the César Chávez Humanitarian Award, the Amigo Award, and the 2007 César Chávez Student Achievement Award


According to Adelante’s executive director Sonia Troche, ‘the humanitarian award is presented to a Latino/a for his/her lifetime achievement of giving generously to ensure that Latino youth and professionals in the greater Toledo area have equal access to services, education, and job opportunities.’


This year’s César Chávez Humanitarian Award recipient was Rodolfo “Rudy” Lira, a retiree “who works effortlessly and passionately seeking social justice for underserved Latinos with an emphasis on migrant workers in the Latino community.”


Lira spoke briefly—both in Spanish and English, describing his early experiences with Chávez and the early struggles of the United Farm Workers, Chávez, and cofounder Dolores Huerta. Lira emphasized the role and power of prayer during the huelgas y luchas, or strikes and struggles.


According to Lira, during numerous contacts with Chávez, they became aware that they were brothers in spirit, in blood, and in sugar—the latter remark referring to the diabetic status of both Lira and Chávez.


Father Richard Notter of Saints Peter and Paul Parish nominated Lira, knowing the spirit of the man through many years of church activity—Lira being a church deacon.


Present were previous Humanitarian Award recipients Dolores Rodríguez and Baldemar Velásquez. Velásquez, who recently returned from México on behalf of FLOC, announced an immigration rights march to Columbus, Ohio on May 5, 2007. Due to an illness, recipient Sue Campos was unable to attend.


Student art on display at Chavez Awards

Commissioner Ben Konop presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Lira, on behalf of the Lucas County Commissioners.


Nancy Rice, students recognized

Nancy Rice, Director of Prevention Services for the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County, was honored with the Amigo Award, as a non-Latino/a who promotes and supports the Adelante cause in advancing educational opportunities and promoting equal access to services for Latinos in Toledo.


Five local students received the Student Achievement Award—Joseph Martínez (St. John’s Jesuit High School), Martha Sandoval (Waite High School), Jessica Shepherd (Toledo School for the Arts), Kristina Tijerina (Pandora Gilboa High School), and Danae Jiménez (Defiance Senior High School). Adelante’s Youth Program Manager Andreanna Rivera assisted in the awards presentations to these five students.


Rivera also announced the creation of the Human Values for Transformative Action (HVTA), a local organization that has launched the Community HeARTbeats program in Northwest Ohio. 


According to Rivera, the Community HeARTbeat approach calls upon artists and people of goodwill to connect with individuals from marginalized groups and to create visual images that accurately represent the experiences, needs, and suggestions of these individuals/groups. 

Emcees for Adelante’s 4th Annual César E. Chávez Humanitarian Awards were Michelle Zepeda (left) of Fox Toledo and Roberto Torres (right) of the Toledo Public Schools Board of Education. Also pictured is KissFM radio personality Andrew “Z” Zepada with las hijas de Sonia Troche, director of Adelante.

“This grass-roots initiative uses creative expression as a tool for inspiring, engaging, and involving young Toledoans and youth from surrounding areas in processes of reflection, dialogue, envisioning, team building, and to create visual images that accurately represent the experiences, needs, and suggestions of these individuals/groups,” said Rivera.


The students’ art was unveiled during the program. Students entertained attendees with mini-skits.

Director Troche thanked her staff for the tremendous job they were doing and gave thanks to the event’s sponsors. Recognition was given to Adelante’s Chávez Award Committee, consisting of Josh Flores (Chair), Claudia Annoni, Louis Escobar, Lesly Garnett, Lisa Olvera, Robert Torres, and Rivera.

Troche briefly explained Adelante’s youth and homeownership programs.


Emcees for the evening were Michelle Zepeda of Fox Toledo and Roberto Torres of the Toledo Public Schools Board of Education.


Editor’s Note: The City of Lansing, Michigan is preparing for its annual banquet to honor Chávez, scheduled for April 18, 2007, at the Lansing Center.

L-R: Adelante Director Sonia Troche, Danae Jimenez, Kristina Tijerina,  Martha Sandoval,  Joseph  Martínez, and Andreanna Rivera, in attendance at last Friday’s 2007 César Chávez Humanitarian Awards Gala.



 Anita Lopez and Roberto Torres

 Ben Konop and Louis Escobar


 Cookie and Paul Pecina

 Dave Ibarra, Sonia Troche and Michelle Zepeda


 Imagenes Mexicanas dances for Adelante

 Robert Gutierrez


 Josh Flores and Frank Smith

 Joe Balderas


 Santos and Maria Rodriguez

 Rudy Lira and Baldemar Velasquez


 Robert Salazar y hija






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