Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Touro University honors F.E.P. community organizer: Acceptance speech given by Maria Guevara




Acceptance speech of Maria Guevara, Food Empowerment Project's Vallejo Community organizer receiving a Hero Award

TOURO PUBLIC HEALTH
COMMUNITY HERO AWARD


Thank you Touro University for choosing Vallejo to serve, to lead and to teach. You have served our community in so many ways and we are forever grateful.

Thank you Alicia, Gayle, Brigida and Touro’s Public Health Program for this beautiful award.

In researching this award, it was delightful to learn that it was established in conjunction with the Day of Compassion.
Wow, A Day of Compassion.

As I googled it, there were many things that came up about this day which is celebrated by many people all over the world.  Some celebrate it by honoring veganism and the promise not to eat animals, others by sponsoring a child in other countries and some would ask their congregation to spend a day volunteering to serving those in need.

Time dedicated to a response to the suffering of others is a familiar to me as I have seen time and time again, in this compassionate town of Vallejo - so many caring individuals, performing so many selfless acts of love-
going out of their way to help the physical, spiritual, or emotional hurts or pains of others.

Vallejo Together an eternal volunteer organization was established in 2010 to build 6 areas of community - business, culture, education, faith, government and safety.  Having over 400 residents attend our first meeting, we continue to be, more than 6 years later, excited about serving our community.  We are grateful to work hand in hand with agencies, entities, government, organizations and individuals to usher in humane policies and break barriers for all those in need.

We are privileged to have so many heroes that work alongside us, which we are so glad to have as our guests here today.  Heroes like Lauren Ornelas, founder of Food Empowerment Project who came to study Vallejo’s food desert and is demanding change in the way Vallejoans are given access to healthy food.  Or Lisa Gutierrez Wilson, co founder of the Vallejo Peace Project who encourages youth to take a pledge to be peacemakers in their schools. Veronica Vega, a public health nurse who happily delivers food and clothing to refugees seeking safety. Supervisor Erin Hannigan who stopped 7 mothers and 11 children from being evicted from their housing. Divine Mercy Prayer Group who gathers together once a month from many cities in the North Bay to prepare food and deliver to 100 senior citizens and friends in need. Community Life Integration Foundation’s Sonya and Nyesha Russell who works hard day and night to fund a building they occupied in faith. And Julie Brand, who owns A Wise Retreat, a 24/7 substance abuse treatment home for women.

We know that we cannot do it alone.

Together, we can.

Often times, the public health issue of those we serve is not physical but internal.  It is mental and spiritual. More than empty stomachs, our friends have their hearts emptied, clutching to the little amount of hope they have because they have suffered and continue to suffer so many disappointments in their lives.  All they have left, and sometimes barely, is their will to survive.

Working with our friends in need have taught us that if we really wanted to help, we had to act FAST and act NOW.  We had to put aside every barrier and help them as soon as possible. And even if they weren’t ready yet, we had to be prepared when we get that call.

We did not knock on doors, we created our own pathways.  


We did not to wait on things to happen - we made things happen.  

We did not wait for someone else to do it, because WE were the ones who our friends had been waiting for.

And they needed us right now.

Our efforts were always two pronged. Helping now with immediate needs, but always working towards a vision of solution of a more permanent structure, a foundation of solid services that will be available for those in need in the future and will outlast us when we are no longer here.

One of Vallejo Peace Project’s founder Lisa Gutierrez Wilson’s favorite quote is “Complacency Kills” And it truly does.  Every moment spent allowing another to suffer is a moment lost to show compassion and love.

And we don’t have to do BIG things - let’s start with a smile, first at ourselves, knowing that our little light can shine wonders in others once we allow it to be free. Next, let’s look at what we want and can do to help and then little by little, just do it.

On behalf of all us present here today, Vallejo Together, our partners and friends accept this award and dedicate it to all the heroes present here in this room, and all those in the community who display the courage to be compassionate. Thank you for going the distance for those who can no longer take the next step.


Thank you for being you.

So remember…

In a world of suffering, be compassionate.

Together, We Can

1 comment:

  1. Wow! An excellent speech.

    Congratulations and thank you for your efforts.

    Out of the excellent words here, these were among my favorite: "Every moment spent allowing another to suffer is a moment lost to show compassion and love."

    Thanks for posting this.

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