Reflejos honors contributions to Latino community

By Marco Ortiz
Updated 11/15/2016 11:48 PM

Twenty three local companies and organizations were honored Tuesday night at Stonegate Banquets in Hoffman Estates during the fifth annual Reflecting Excellence Awards sponsored by Reflejos bilingual newspaper.

Reflejos' Reflecting Excellence Awards recognizes businesses and nonprofits for their contributions to the Latino community through their services, products and community activism in Cook, Lake, Kane, McHenry, DuPage, DeKalb, Will and Kendall counties. Reflejos is owned by Paddock Publications Inc., the parent company of the Daily Herald.

The organizations and businesses are nominated by readers of Reflejos.

"This event becomes more special each year, as Reflejos and its readers are able to give recognition to so many wonderful and varied groups and institutions that truly make a difference in the lives of our Latino community," said Linda Siete, general operations and sales manager for the newspaper.

Guest speaker Julia Vera shared her inspiring story from her childhood in Laredo, Texas, to Disney Studios in Los Angeles. The actress has worked with Harrison Ford, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz and Sharon Stone. Vera voices the role of Luisa, Elena's loving and energetic grandmother in Disney's "Elena of Avalor." The animated film follows Princess Elena, Disney's first princess inspired in the Latin American culture.

Vera delivered his message to young students, business owners, corporate employees and families from the Hispanic community.

"I know each one of us has a dream, and is never too late to pursuit it. It is nothing sadder to see a person who never lives his dream. They have regrets, they get sick and have depression. But if you pursue your dreams you will have a life of joy. Pursue your dreams and you will be healthy and happy," said.

The readers also nominated five outstanding Latino students to win scholarships for academic achievement. Based on the votes, Reflejos awarded $1,000 scholarships to:

Emigdio Garcia, from College of DuPage; Victor Estrada, Erik Flores and Adriana Segura, all of them from Palatine High School and Edward Hernandez from Wheeling High School.

Among the organizations and institutions awarded were Sherman Advocate Hospital, Northwest Community Healthcare, Lake County Opioid Initiative, Alianza Hispana, Ramos Tax Services, Lakeside Bank, Judson University, National Louis University, ECC-Illinois Exemplar of College Readiness, Dominican University, St. Francis University, Ave Fenix, Boys 2 Men Juniorversity, Elgin Area Chamber-ACE, City of Elgin-ACE, District U-46- ACE, Harper College Educational Foundation,

Hope Giving Circle, Holy Family Surgery Center & the Romano Family, SCA Medical Missions & Andrew Hayek, Chairman of SCA Mediacal Missions and Symbol Training. Community service awards were given to Joe Cervantes and Elida Cano.

Edgar Huerta, an ESL teacher at James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, won the Teacher of the Year award.

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