Elgin Hispanic Network honors EPEL, Gail Borden Library associate

A group that sets up bilingual reading stations in area laundromats and a Gail Borden Public Library employee have been recognized as organization and person of the year by the Elgin Hispanic Network.

The awards are given out in recognition of support of the local Hispanic community by the Elgin Hispanic Network, the oldest volunteer community-based Hispanic organization in Elgin. The group, which has more than 50 member organizations, said the annual awards are normally presented in November but were delayed by the pandemic.

The Elgin Partnership for Early Learning (EPEL), a collaboration of community members who provide programming and services to help young children thrive, was honored as Organization of the Year for its work with Hispanic families.

"EPEL has gone above and beyond to help families in need," EHN President Dianna Manjarrez said in a news release. "EPEL has been proactive in serving local families with diapers, calendars, resources and important activities to help kids learn."

Of note, is the partnership's outreach to families, a large majority of them Spanish-speaking, in area laundromats where they set up bilingual reading stations for children.

Elgin Partnership for Early Learning Executive Director Amber Peters said the group is honored to be a part of the network. "Elgin Hispanic Network is a vital intersection to EPEL's mission of building a connected community dedicated to helping young children thrive," Peters said. "They offer network members a platform to connect with businesses and nonprofits in the community to ensure we work in an integrated manner to provide resources to serve our Hispanic families and their neighborhoods best. These connections help build a robust early childhood system for families."

Flor Chavez, Hispanic services associate with Gail Borden Public Library, was recognized as Individual of the Year for her focus on programs that are inclusive and culturally relevant to Spanish-speaking members of the community.

"Flor is an inspiration to many of us, in particular those of us who have migrated to the United States from Spanish-speaking countries," Manjarrez said.

"I want to thank EHN and all who trust in my abilities and commitment to the community," Chavez said. "It is meaningful to know that what I do here on behalf of the library is valued."

Elgin Partnership for Early Learning Executive Director Amber Peters holds a plaque awarded to her group as the Elgin Hispanic Network's Organization of the Year. COURTESY OF ELGIN HISPANIC NETWORK
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