Victor Espinosa urges giving back to community
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: October 02, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
Victor Espinosa described as a low-profile leader was honored by Latino Town Hall with the prestigious Ray Garcia Humanitarian Award, the fifth member of his family to be honored by the LTH.
Victor and others were lauded at the 17th Annual Latino Town Hall Awards Dinner held at historic Casa Del Mexicano on September 6.
Hundreds of people attended the sold out celebration of community and community activism.
Elected officials on the federal, state, county and local levels were represented at the event.
Santa Paula Unified School District Board President Christine Tina Urias noted that all proceeds from the event would benefit the LTH Scholarship program. This year $500 scholarships were awarded to Renaissance High School graduating seniors Erica Andrade, Maria Guadalupe Ramirez, and Eric Salgado.
Before the program started Master of Ceremonies Jesse Ornelas said each year he is impressed with the quality of the recipients.
The Ray Garcia Humanitarian Award is named in honor of the late community activist and Latino Town Hall co-founder and noted Ornelas, “Victor’s award is so very well deserved.... “
He said that for decades Victor has been at the forefront of many activities and programs, although, “He leads from the rear.... no matter the cause, large or small, Victor can be counted on. He’s a leader but always quiet about it.”
Victor emigrated from Michoacán, Mexico and has been a resident of Santa Paula for more than 60 years.
Ornelas told the crowd that Victor, “a venerated hero in time of conflict, received the Bronze Star for Heroism for his service in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Upon returning from service, he started a family and a business in Santa Paula and, buoyed by his strong personal values, has spent much of his spare time over the years supporting local community causes and contributing to community empowerment efforts.”
Ornelas said that, “As a part of the fabric of Santa Paula, Victor has dedicated himself to making the community a better place for us all without ever seeking recognition or acknowledgement,” for his efforts, including service on the Executive Board of the Santa Clara Valley Hospice-Home Support Group and as president of the Santa Paula House Farm Workers organization.
“He has contributed greatly to Santa Paula Latino Town Hall’s community service efforts, dedicated countless hours to helping to feed the homeless, and played key roles in local government advocacy.”
In addition, Ornelas said Victor has served on the board and as president of the Santa Paula Boys & Girls Club, as a member of the Kiwanis Club, Santa Paula Mexican American Chamber of Commerce, and advisor and member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and finance council.
“These are just a few of the many, many worthy causes to which Mr. Espinosa has lent his time, talents, and hard work over the decades.”
That work, noted Ornelas, was often done quietly: “Victor’s ‘lead from behind’ philosophy, jovial presence, and caring concern for those around him, in addition to the countless hours he has contributed to serving our community over his lifetime,” have made him stand out as “truly deserving” of the 2013 Latino Town Hall Raymond Garcia Humanitarian Award.
“He is truly part of the fabric dedicated to making Ventura County in general and Santa Paula in particular a better place.... “
Victor said he was “humbled” to receive the award and noted that a “common theme” of all Latino Town Hall honors is “To give back to the community.... “
He dedicated his honor to his mother “Who saw the good in all,” and his father, whose determination and community service included being “one of the founders and builders,” of the Casa and its benefit organization set an example for Victor and his siblings as well as his children.
Laura Flores-Espinosa, Victor’s wife, came in for special accolades as an example of “Being a champion of justice and equality for all.... We ourselves gain and benefit from giving back to make things better,” when others follow.
“Jack Poss encouraged me to become involved in the Boys & Girls Club,” and Victor said, “You give little when you give your possessions, but give a lot when you give of self.
“The challenge for all of us is to make a difference, get involved,” as said Victor, “We must be a part of a bigger picture.”
The Espinosa family has probably set a Latino Town Hall Awards’ record: Laura, a former City Council member, is also a recipient of the Latino Town Hall Ray Garcia Humanitarian Award while Victor’s sister Luzmaria Espinosa has been honored for Cultural Arts; Victor’s father Luis has been lauded by Latino Town Hall for Community Service and son Christopher Espinosa has been honored as the Latino Town Hall Youth of the Year.