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Hispanic Achievement Awards nominations sought; Honors handed out in 7 categories

By Staff | Aug 28, 2008

The Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board is now accepting nominations for its ninth annual Hispanic Achievement Awards.

According to Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board staff, the awards are aimed at recognizing people from the community who have had a positive affect on life in Lee County, and have also made significant strides in bridging the gap between cultures.

Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board Chairman Luis Rivera said award nominees do not have to be Hispanic.

“We want to recognize not only the Hispanic community but individuals who have contributed to the Hispanic community,” Rivera said. “The awards really honor contributions to Lee County as a whole.”

Awards will be presented in seven different categories including: Elementary Student of the Year, Middle School Student of the Year, High School/College Student of the Year, Ministry of the Year, Educator of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Employee of the Year and Business Organization of the Year.

Winners are determined by a nomination committee, staffed by people separate from the advisory board. The committee is headed by Evelyn Rivera of the Hispanic Teacher’s Association.

Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board Vice-Chair Veronica Culbertson said the board utilizes a separate committee to make sure there is no personal interest involved with the selection of the award winners.

Founded in 1991, the advisory board was established by county ordinance for the purpose of advising and assisting the Board of Lee County Commissioners with issues relative to the Hispanic community.

Rivera added the board is “tasked” by that ordinance from 1991 to identify the problems, if any, within the Hispanic community and to communicate those issues to the county commission.

Rivera credits commissioners for having the foresight to envision the growth of Hispanic population on Lee County in the early ’90s.

“I have been with the board since 2003, so to some degree I am speculating,” Rivera said. “But, no one could’ve imagined the growth of the Hispanic community within the county. No one could have guessed.”

Winners of the achievement awards will be announced at a banquet on Sept. 30 at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers. Tickets are $25 and include a full buffet dinner.

Rivera said the group has an easy-to-use nomination form, available by contacting the chairman at Luis.Rivera@henlaw.com, or by calling 344-1533.