Santa Paula Latino Town Hall announces recipients for the 16th Annual Awards Dinner

August 24, 2012
Santa Paula News

The Santa Paula Latino Town Hall 16th annual dinner will be held Friday, September 7th at the renowned La Casa Del Mexicano Hall, 218 S. 11th Street in Santa Paula.

The event starts at 6:00 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6:45 p.m.

This year’s keynote speaker is prominent professor Dr. Gabriela Sandoval. Dr. Sandoval was born and raised in Santa Paula. She received her PhD from Cornell University.  Her dissertation is titled: Where is the Brown Vote? Race, Class, and Gender Voting and The Voting Rights Act in Santa Paula. After receiving her doctorate she went on to teach at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  She recently accepted a research and policy formulation position in the San Francisco bay area.

Maricela Morales of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) will follow Dr. Sandoval's keynote address with an update on the voter registration and education effort currently underway county-wide as part of an effort to increase Latino voter participation this election year.

Tickets for the event are $45.00 per person.  

This year’s recipients of the Santa Paula Latino Town Hall Awards are as follows:

Jesse Victoria Business: This year’s Business Category award goes to Mr. Joe Vega, owner of Vega Welding.  Mr. Vega will be accepting the award.  Vega Welding has been in business in Santa Paula for over 40 years. During that time, the community has come to rely on this business for decorate metal works, serious construction works projects, and for heavy duty metal works. Without a doubt, Vega Welding is a valuable asset to the community of Santa Paula, Joe Vega and is deserving of this year’s Jess Victoria Business Award.

Youth: This year’s Youth Category award goes to Pete Sanchez. Peter (Pete) Sanchez dedicated many hours of his personal time raising money for Little League and the Boy’s Club (now known as the Boys/Girls Club) in Santa Paula.  In 1974 a group of young men from Limoneira asked Pete to assist them in forming a young men’s group, which would focus on raising scholarship funds for the youth.  This group known as “Unity” was formed.  They decided to sponsor their first Little League Team, “Unity”.  Pete continued to sponsor the team through 1996.  He attended all the games and after every game, he would bring a hamburger, fries and a drink for the team to enjoy.  Jess Morua, a former team player of Unity said: “Pete started the Happy Meal before McDonald’s”. Pete Sanchez is deserving of this year’s Youth Award.

Education: This year’s Education Category award goes to Joseph Torres. Joe graduated from Santa Paula Union High in 1964 and because he wanted to be a positive example for his family, enrolled in UCLA to further his education. In 1975 Joe was hired as a teacher in Fillmore High where he taught for 31 years until his retirement in 2006. During his tenure as a teacher his accomplishments were many. In 1995 he assisted his students in exercising their First Amendment right of freedom of speech and organized a student walkout in opposition to Proposition 187.  Joe was always looking for ways to motivate his students and discovered the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) program and began a commitment in assisting countless students in developing effective study habits and eventually be accepted to four year colleges. The students were always recognized by the fact that each of them was made to carry their Individual Goals in their pockets and refer to them daily. It is for his dedication and commitment to education that we honor Joseph Torres with the Latino Town Hall Award for Education. 

Community Service: This year’s Community Service Award goes to Maria Jimenez. Maria founded Poder Popular in Santa Paula, an organization of primarily Mexican and Central American immigrant women, with a focus on domestic violence, economic self-sufficiency, health and nutrition.  Poder Popular provides Zumba classes, walking for health groups, nutrition classes, and jewelry-making and is currently assisting First Five in establishing a community garden.  Poder Popular was instrumental in getting the US Postal Service to erect a handicap access ramp that can also be used by mothers with baby strollers.   Besides leading Poder Popular, she is also the President of Campesinas Unidas, a state-wide social change organization that advocates for human rights and empowerment for farmworker women by providing advocacy and a variety of legal, social and health services. It is this spirit of giving and sharing and the extraordinary talents of Maria Jimenez that makes Latino Town Hall proud to present her with the Community Service Award for 2012.  

Sports: This year’s Sports Award goes to Ulises Valenzuela. Ulises has volunteered as a coach, coaching T-ball and youth soccer since 2005.  In 2008, Ulises founded and coached Team Clutch, an after little league baseball organization dedicated to enhancing the baseball skills of our youth.  He started with 12 kids and over time Team Clutch grew to 86 kids and 7 teams. For having touched the lives of thousands of our youth and made life better for them through sports and for volunteering on the little league board of directors, Ulises Valenzuela is deserving of the 2012 Santa Paula Latino Town Hall Sports Award.

Cultural Arts: This year’s Cultural Arts Award goes to   Michael Torres.  In 2003, Michael began working at Santa Paula High School teaching Art and Computer Art. In his years at SPHS he has sought to be a role model for all students, especially Chicano students and those that look to make a career in the Visual Arts. In collaboration with the SPHS Art Department, students have been able to exhibit their best works in the annual Medallas de Oro (Gold Metals) SPHS Student Art Show at the California Oil Museum. Michael has exhibited his work throughout Southern California including shows in Los Angeles, Claremont, Valencia, Ventura, Camarillo, and Santa Paula. He was recently selected as the head of the SPHS Art Department. The Santa Paula Latino Town Hall is proud to honor Mr. Michael Torres with this year’s Cultural Arts Award. 

Raymond Garcia Humanitarian: This year’s Raymond Garcia Humanitarian Award is being bestowed upon Alfonso (Al) Guilin.  Alfonso had a distinguished career in agriculture.  In 1965 he began a thirty year career with the Limoneira Company in Santa Paula, California. During this time he served on many boards including, Agricultural Producers, Santa Paula Savings and Loan, Briggs School Board of Trustees, The Ventura County Symphony.  He founded the Destino 2000 Fund of The Ventura County Community Foundation.  He was the President of the Rotary Club of Santa Paula in 1973. After his retirement from the Limoneira Company in 1996, he began serving in volunteer activities with his church.  Feeling the call to ordained ministry he entered studies and was ordained a Permanent Deacon in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2001.  He currently serves as Deacon at St. Sebastian and Our Lady of Guadalupe Churches.  He is actively involved in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul where he serves as Spiritual Director. He continues to serve his community in his many civic involvements including, The Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce, The Fireworks Committee, the Farm Worker Housing Committee, the Labor Day Parade Committee, the Santa Paula Ministerial Association, the Santa Paula Art Museum and many other activities as he is called on. The Santa Paula Latino Town Hall is proud to honor Alfonso (Al) Guilin with the 2012 Latino Town Hall Raymond Garcia Humanitarian Award.

We look forward to seeing all of you and honoring the recipients the evening of September 7, 2012. If you have any questions, please contact Jesse R. Ornelas at: 805/659-3791 x 114, Cell: 805/407-2738, or e-mail: For ticket information, please contact: Tina Urias at 805/794-6136, Tony Perez at 805/525-1274.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.