Community Champions Honored
A community champion can be anyone – a public official, a community leader, a concerned citizen, a health or human service worker, a volunteer – who works hard to improve the quality of life for their community. Whatever they do, they think of the community before themselves.
On Friday, November 8, 2013, members of the community congregated to pay tribute to local leaders at Café on A, located at 438 South A Street. The event, emceed by KNS ROCKSTAR, began with a tamale dinner followed by an awards ceremony and performances by talented dancers and singers.
KNS ROCKSTAR, who are well known for their ‘Stop Tha Bullying & Youth Violence Tour & Campaign’, recognized the following people who have shown tremendous leadership and dedication to improving our community and through community engagement: the Honorable former Oxnard Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Irene Pinkard and the Honorable former Oxnard City Councilman Bedford Pinkard, Ventura County Chapter NAACP President John R. Hatcher, III, Oxnard School District Board of Trustees Albert Duff, Sr., Ventura County Chapter NAACP Treasurer Vincent Stewart, Cafe on A / Acuna Gallery and Cultural Center Co-Director Dr. Deborah De Vries, KEYS Leadership Academy Executive Director Armando Vazquez, Attorney Barbara Macri-Ortiz, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, Buddy Gibson and Julie Medina.
Albert Duff, Sr., who has lived in Oxnard for over 50 years, spoke of how life has progressed throughout the years locally. “My wife and I have five children, one is in heaven, and eight grandchildren – all here in Oxnard. She’s a retired principal from the Oxnard School District and I guess that’s how I got on the board. It’s been a pleasure working there and working with the kids. I started with about 12,000 students and now it’s close to 18,000 students. We’ve build three new schools.”
Ventura County Chapter NAACP President John R. Hatcher, III, gave rave reviews of the county and city. “I love Ventura County. I love Oxnard. When someone starts talking about Ventura County, I get upset.”
Dr. Deborah De Vries spoke very highly of local attorney Barbara Macri-Ortiz. “She’s made a difference in our community for so many people by helping them with housing and helping them get their voices heard. She’s an advocate for the poor and the people who have been disenfranchised in our community for so many years.”
“She’s the lawyer who helped get Cesar Chavez Village and the Wagon Wheel Village. She’s still protecting people in cases that have taken 13 years, nine years, and she never gives up,” Dr. De Vries continued.
Café on A Co-Director Armando Vazquez was also honored by KNS ROCKSTAR for the work he has done in the community. “He’s a revolutionary here in Oxnard. He fights for anybody, just go to him. He opens his heart; he opens his doors to anyone here who needs it. There have been people who have slept here. There have been people that have come here to eat. Because of him, we have a place for us to teach our Health and Soul line dance classes.”
Vazquez took a moment to voice his passion on the importance of the cohesion of “Black and Brown” in our community. “Debbie and I have been working really hard in this community to bring the “Black and Brown” and everything other in between together, the young people, the old people. We’ve got a good thing going on here. One more good woman in city council and we turn this thing around. Make it a city for the people, by the people. It’s really an exciting time for all of us here. Unconditional love is what is going to drive this.”
The event also featured performances by KNS ROCKSTAR, the Oxnard College Nema Belly Dancers, Sade Champagne, Health & Soul Line Dance Fitness Academy, Hamp, One Love Dance Company, J.Lynn, Lacy Kay, Ducky & Casper, and GiL.
The affair closed out with a positive message from KNS ROCKSTARS’ Silky. “We look at the youth in our community. We are trying to build new seeds. When you build new seeds, you build a better place to live. If we don’t start now, there is no telling where our youth are going to be.”
“Three people were shot the other night, one died. That has to stop. We do the ‘Stop Tha Bullying & Youth Violence Tour & Campaign’. There were people out there saying that we’re not good for the schools. We are the best thing that has ever happened to these schools. We send them to Six Flags, we send them to Disneyland, and that’s our money. We choose to do that because someone has to be loving these kids.”