La Familia – Community Engagement Award Recipient Announced!

Posted on Sep 22, 2014 in News

The Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley is proud to announce our president, Jaqui Guzman, and her family have been awarded the La Familia Community Engagement Award from the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.

The La Familia award is given each year to recognize and award an exemplary Latino Familia that is inspirational to others in community, volunteerism and engagement. The goal is to recognize everyday Latino families that are performing extraordinary community activities through volunteerism in order to make the community a better place. La familia Guzman will be honored at the annual Hispanic Foundation Ball on Saturday, November 1, 2014 at the San Jose Fairmont.

2014 La Familia – Community Engagement Award Winners – La Familia Guzman

La Familia Guzman1

The Guzmán family has a long standing history of community service instilled by family matriarch and patriarch Gilberto and Cunda Guzmán, who served as role models to their four children Lupe, Gilberto Jr., Maribel and Jaqui.

“Recognizing the Guzmán Family continues a 24 year tradition of our Foundation in placing a spotlight on a Latino family with a long history of community engagement and volunteerism.” said Ron Gonzales, President and CEO of the HFSV. “La Familia Guzmán has made a great impact on the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City for over 30 years; and are beloved for their contributions by the local community,” said Gonzales.

La Familia Guzmán, Gilberto Sr. and Cunda

La Familia Guzmán family emigrated from Mexico in 1979. Determined to give their children a great education, they volunteered on the Board of the migrant education program in the 1980s. With their limited English, Gilberto Sr. and Cunda never missed a parent/teacher meeting. When their children were in high school they opened up their home to host a community tutoring program for neighboring kids. As part of the program, they were volunteer teachers and would provide homework assistance, while Cunda, the matriarch of the family, prepared homemade meals to lure the neighborhood kids. Cunda continues to serve as a volunteer catechism teacher at Saint Anthony’s Parish in Redwood City for over 20 years.

Her husband, Gilberto Guzmán Sr., is always at her side helping with the transportation of their donated goods. Gilberto is also known for volunteering on beautification days and setting up for fundraising events. Gilberto and Cunda always exuded pride in their heritage and a strong sense of service to others. It’s no surprise that their four children (Lupe, Gilberto Jr., Maribel, and Jaqui) all pursued public service careers and are also active community volunteers serving the Latino community.

The Guzmán’s are also well known as a model family in Redwood City. With a 4th and 6th grade education, Cunda and Gilberto got all four of their children through college. They achieved this by sharing their strong work ethic and humility with their kids.  Starting at a young age, the kids were expected to go to work with their parents doing garden maintenance or cleaning houses for the wealthy in Woodside and Los Altos. This motivated their kids to work hard in school but it also made them aware of the inequality that exists. Despite being economically disadvantaged, the Guzmán’s always found a way to give back. This instilled a strong sense of service to others in their children that will no doubt pass down to their grandchildren: Agatha 9, Sara 7, Tobias 5, Amalia 2, Olivia 6 months.

Lupe, Gilberto Jr., Maribel and Jaqui

Lupe was the principal of Fair Oaks School in Redwood City for 5 years and became the Vice Principal at Kennedy Middle School, in Fall 2014. Fair Oaks school is 98% Latino and has the highest levels of crime and poverty in the City. Lupe goes beyond the call of duty opening up her school to the community on nights and weekends for family activities from movie nights to beautification days and fundraising festivals. She also conducts home visits and goes as far as picking up students from home in order to improve their school attendance. Her husband Ronnie Steele has learned the Guzmán way and is the unofficial audio/visual point person for Lupe’s school events. He also began a co-ed roller hockey team at Fair Oaks School, which he has been coaching for the past four years.

Gilberto Jr. is a 7th grade math teacher at Roosevelt School in Redwood City. He began a jiu-jitsu program for at-risk boys at the school five years ago. His jiu-jitsu program is open to all children in the community. He fundraises and writes grants for equipment, uniforms, and tournament entrance fees. The success of his program is measured by the growing number of medals his students have won. In addition, Gilberto volunteers with the Sparks Program, which provides life-changing apprenticeships to youth in underserved communities. As a teacher for the Sparks Program, Gilberto works with parents, students and mentors to ensure the program runs smoothly.

Maribel and her husband Herminio Gonzalez Diaz are very active in their church group. Trained as a special education teacher, Maribel has been a volunteer catechism teacher for special needs children for the past 12 years following in her mother’s footsteps. Maribel and Herminio lead “Jovenes Unidos en Cristo Aprendiendo en Familia” a program out of Saint Francis of Assisi church in East Palo Alto. As part of the program they work predominantly with immigrant families to not only to teach church doctrine, but to create a sense of community. Herminio is also a talk show host focused on Catholic teachings for an internet radio program on Radio Circulo Cultural. They often serve as family counselors when difficult issues arise and direct families to community resources when needed.

Jaqui is the current President of the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley (LCSV). Through her participation in LCSV, Jaqui has helped coordinate workshops and events that inspire civic engagement and promote leadership development. She has also helped with LCSV’s Engaged Latina Leadership (ELLA) program, a six month leadership program designed for emerging Latina leaders age 18-26. As a result, Jaqui has had the opportunity to create mentoring relationships with many ELLA participants. She has advised several on their personal statements for graduate school admission, internships, and career moves. In addition, Jaqui serves as a Board Member of Alpha Public Schools, a charter organization serving predominantly Latino students in East San Jose. Her primary role is to help Alpha create strong connections with local community leaders and organizations. Currently, Jaqui is part of a team working to design a parent center at  Alpha that promotes parent engagement and empowerment.