Denver -- Carla Martinez, a Senior Housing Specialist with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), received the agency's first annual Denver Regional Office Hispanic Employment Program (HEP) Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Award at a Ceremony held on March 30, 2006. Carla assists hearing-impaired children in Denver and also provides sign language translation for members of her church, Holy Cross Catholic Church in Thornton, Colorado. She volunteers at Swansea Elementary School to help Special Education children with math and reading.
On March 30, 2006, HUD's Hispanic Employment Program (HEP) held the First Annual Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Award Ceremony and recognized Ms. Martinez for her contributions. Ms. Martinez has been a leader in HEP for years and was elected as HEP Manager from 2000 to 2004. She also served the members as vice-president and secretary. Ms. Martinez is a certified Toastmaster and was recently promoted to her new position of Senior Housing Specialist.
The Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Award recognizes a Denver Region VIII HUD employee for going the extra mile and volunteering in the community. HUD's HEP members Ann Muniz and Don Benavidez made this year's First Annual Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Award ceremony possible by working with HUD's management and the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation to obtain permission to use Cesar E. Chavez's name on the award. Newly elected HEP Manager Ramona Elizalde presented the engraved plaque to Ms. Martinez.
Cesar E. Chavez was the founder and leader of the United Farm Workers Union. Mrs. Juanita Herrera was the featured speaker at the ceremony and was accompanied by her husband, Alfredo Herrera. Both were union organizers during the first grape strike in Calif. in 1965. The Herrera's came to Denver to organize the first national grape boycott in 1968 and later the boycott of lettuce and grapes in Baltimore, Md. in 1973. Mrs. Herrera described 12 to 15 hour-long, hot days for children and adults. They kneeled in the fields to pick grapes and carried heavy fruit crates for 90-cents per hour. Ms. Herrera described the union workers and the late Cesar Chavez's pilgrimage to a union rally in Sacramento, Calif., on the capitol's steps. Along the route, laborers' feet became blistered from worn shoes and hunger was satisfied with donated food.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.