First-Annual Community Latinx Celebration Recognizes Best of South Sound
October 27, 2021
Six South Sound individuals and two organizations were recognized for making a difference in Latinx communities.
A total of six local Latinx leaders and two local Latinx organizations were honored earlier this month during the first annual “Celebrando Comunidad: Latinx Celebration + Awards.” A group of UW Tacoma students, faculty, staff, alumni as well as community members developed the idea to honor those making a difference in South Sound Latinx communities by hosting an annual celebration. The group decided to make this year’s event virtual because of the pandemic, but is hoping next year’s event will be in-person.
UW Tacoma Senior Director of Student Transitions and Success Amanda Figueroa spearheaded the process which included securing financial support through the university’s Strategic Initiative Fund. The planning committee came up with eight categories that honor either an individual or an organization. Awardees were given the opportunity to receive professional storytelling coaching with the goal of having each present their own story during the event.
Below is a list of this year’s honorees.
Youth Impact Award — Melody Rodriguez
Rodriguez is the founder and director of Proyecto Mole. The organization seeks to “inspire, prepare, and mobilize Latino youth as leaders in their communities throughout Pierce County.” Rodriguez has spent the past 27 years supporting youth in Tacoma, many of which have come back to the community and are now leading as the next generation of change-makers.
Latinx Social Justice Award, sponsored by the City of Tacoma — Diana Parra
Diana Parra has spent the past few years advocating for refugees, immigrants, and other underserved communities to have access to vaccines and other vital services. Her nominator described her as a “rockstar advocate for the Latinx community.”
Reyes is working with La Resistencia, a multi-racial, multi-status, multi-gender group that advocates for ending the detention of immigrants and stopping deportations in Washington state.
Latinx Health Care Award — The Foundation for Multicultural Solutions – El Camino
This Latinx-run organization provides substance abuse recovery services for those in need. The Foundation strives to be culturally appropriate, and sensitive to the needs of the Latino community. Its founders, Carmen Murphy and Patricia Neagle, were described in their nomination as having “strong hearts for their work.”
Latinx Art & Culture Award—The Calavera Collective
The Calavera Collective is a grassroots organization that build bridges of hope between Latinos and people of all backgrounds. Their annual Dia de los Muertos celebration in Tacoma’s Eastside creates spaces of remembering and healing through the sharing of music, visual art, dance and more.
South Sound Latinx-Owed Business Award, sponsored by Puget Sound Energy — Caroleena Santiesteban
Caroleena Santiesteban is a local entrepreneur with a history of community-building and service. Santiesteban embeds Latinx heritage and culture into her business, Imperio Tattoo. She also hosts community events and is actively giving a space to rising local artists.
Latinx Education Award, sponsored by Gesa Credit Union — Liesl Santkuyl
Santkuyl has positively impacted many Latinos in the South Sound through her work, ranging from breast cancer education and awareness, to helping youth explore nursing careers, to helping family members learn how to advocate within K-12 schools and at school board meetings. She was the driving force behind the City of Tacoma Latino Town Halls, and is a founding member and tireless advocate for Latinx Unidos del South South.
You can watch the full celebration and hear from this year’s awardees.
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