The United Community Center (UCC) is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s Friends of the Hispanic Community Awards, which recognize individuals that have made immeasurable contributions to the development and well-being of the community at large. Honorees will be celebrated at UCC’s 42nd Anniversary Celebration. This year’s award recipients are The Walton Family Foundation; Ms. Gladys Simandl, RN, Ph.D. and Ms. Virginia (Sam) Bastian, RN, MS, CAPNP; Ms. Mary Lou Young; and Mr. James A. Marks.
The Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation, created by Wal-Mart founders Sam and Helen Walton, is committed to improving K-12 student achievement in the United States. In traditional public schools, charter public schools, and private schools and at every level, their strategy is to increase the quantity and quality of school choices available to parents, especially in low-income communities. The Walton Family Foundation has been the single largest contributor to the recent Bruce-Guadalupe Community School (BGCS) expansion, because of which BGCS enrollment in K4 through 8th Grade has grown from 789 students to 1,020 in less than five years.
Ms. Gladys Simandl, RN, Ph.D. and Ms. Virginia (Sam) Bastian, RN, MS, CAPNP
El Centro de Salud (The Health Center) grew out of an identified need for school health services at BGCS. Since 1994, El Centro de Salud has been operated by two faculty members of Columbia College of Nursing (CCON).Gladys Simandl, RN, PhD and Sam Bastian RN, MS, CAPNP, a board certified family nurse practitioner. Operating out of the lower level of the UCC, El Centro de Salud offers health screenings, immunizations, health education, and other services for UCC students and clients; these services help to keep children in school, adults at work, and the elderly out of nursing homes. This program also contributes to a diverse and culturally competent health professions workforce, developed through cultural immersion practicum and learning experiences for students attending CCON. UCC’s partnership with CCON has contributed to a student attendance record at BGCS exceeding the state average, older adults’ capacity to remain living independently, and health education for ages 3 to 93 and beyond.
Ms. Mary Lou Young
After retiring from her position managing Global Community Relations at Rockwell Automation, Mary Lou Young took the reins at the United Way of Greater Milwaukee as President and Chief Executive Officer. A long-time advocate for education and human services, both locally and around the world, Mary Lou has demonstrated her commitment to the Hispanic community. She a spearheaded a regional collaboration to leverage and grow corporate support of and engage postsecondary institutions in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-centered curriculum) pipeline, helping to found the advisory committee for the Engineers & Scientists of Milwaukee’s STEM7 initiative. Her support was instrumental in bringing the national STEM curriculum, “Project Lead The Way” to UCC’s Bruce-Guadalupe Middle School. She has demonstrated her commitment to UCC’s human services, cultural arts, and educational programming for more than a decade. Mary Lou is instrumental in the success of Milwaukee’s United Way branch, UCC’s founding partner, and has proven her ongoing commitment to the community through the United Way Education Initiative and Milwaukee Succeeds projects.
Mr. James A. Marks
Throughout a career which spans more than 35 years in Milwaukee, Jim has led a number of initiatives that have strengthened communities and stabilized neighborhoods. His work resulted in the development of several programs and special funds including the Basic Needs Fund, Milwaukee Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative and Nonprofit Management Fund. With his counsel, UCC has expanded programs serving children, youth, and the elderly. He was instrumental in launching UCC’s Neighborhood Development program, helping first-time homebuyers to realize the American Dream of homeownership. While he recently retired from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Jim continues to support the Hispanic community through offering time and support, as well as his knack for strategic planning and program development, to a number of local organizations’ boards of directors.
In addition to recognizing these established community leaders, UCC and Badger Mutual Insurance Company are honoring outstanding achievements of the community’s youth by selecting five exceptional individuals for the Badger Mutual Wall of Fame. These young achievers will be acknowledged on stage at UCC’s 42nd Anniversary Dinner, and their pictures, as well as brief overviews of the students’ accomplishments, are framed to be hung on the walls of the UCC’s Community Learning Center. UCC is proud to recognize the accomplishments of Daniela Cortes, Jordyn Alexandra Gonzalez, Jacelyn Poventud, Diana Darlyn Ruiz, and Evan Alexander Stroud.
Daniela Cortes – Senior, St. Thomas More High School – G.P.A. 3.32
Daniela is a role model for her peers and the young students whom she has mentored through the Youth Empowered to Succeed (Y.E.S.) Program. As a high school freshman, Daniela developed and facilitated anti-bullying retreats for middle school students through Casa Romero Renewal Center, the results of which have been so positive that she has held nearly a dozen retreats in three years since the program’s inception and will oversee an additional nine this year alone. Daniela will study psychology at Carroll University, hoping to continue to give back to the community through counseling or directing youth programs.
Jordyn Alexandra Gonzalez – 8th Grade, Bruce-Guadalupe Community School – G.P.A. 3.8
Playing viola for the Latino Arts Strings Program (LASP) and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) takes great discipline for a full time student, but Jordyn also makes time to further exercise her creativity through spoken word poetry with Reach Inside for Self Expression (R.I.S.E. Up). She helps teenagers develop self-esteem with Dare to Be Great through Lake Valley Camp and has spent time as a member of the Daley Debutantes and BGMS Student Council. Jordyn’s involvement in so many activities stems from her passion for learning and making a difference, attributes that will take her far in life and keep her active in the community.
Jacelyn Poventud – Freshman, Carmen H.S. of Science & Technology – G.P.A. 4.0+
Jacelyn has held better than a 4.0 grade point average while participating in the school’s track and varsity volleyball teams, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) student council program to represent the Latino voice in her school, and UCC’s PreCollege Program. She participated in the Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) last summer, supervising and mentoring children. Jacelyn’s passion and positivity are contagious, and her interests and talents leave her future wide open. She hopes to study either mechanical engineering or accounting at the University of Wisconsin.
Diana Darlyn Ruiz – 8th Grade, Bruce-Guadalupe Community School – G.P.A. 3.94
Diana demonstrates the high standards she sets for herself in all that she does, participating in the UCC garden and BGMS green roof projects, as well as competing in the Future City Competition, a program designed to foster creativity and illuminate the practical applications of math and science in students. In 2011, Diana traveled to Honduras and Nicaragua on a service trip and naturally stepped into a leadership role, impressing her peers and supervisors with her participation and compassion. Diana hopes to be the first person in her family to attend college and intends to generate positivity in the community as a teacher or a lawyer.
Evan Alexander Stroud – 8th Grade, Bruce-Guadalupe Community School – G.P.A. 3.75
Evan plays cello for both the Latino Arts Strings Program and the prestigious Philharmonia group of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO), volunteers at the Wehr Nature Center, and has been an active contributor to the Bruce-Guadalupe Middle School Voice, BGMS’s student newspaper. His achievements made it possible for him to attend the distinguished Phillips Exeter Academy in the summer of 2010 on a scholarship. Evan plans to attend University School of Milwaukee next fall after receiving a full scholarship. He understands the importance of going above and beyond the required work and effort, and Evan hopes to obtain an Ivy League education pursuing architecture so that he can be active in building community both literally and figuratively.
The United Community Center’s annual anniversary dinner is an event at which the agency takes the time to thank our supporters, acknowledge our successes, and lay out the roadmap for the direction of continued program expansion in ways that will continue to benefit the community. This year, UCC will celebrate 42 years of service on Friday, April 27, with a reception beginning at 5:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:00 p.m. and a program at 7:00 p.m. The sold-out event will feature performances by the Latino Arts Strings Program and Bruce-Guadalupe Community School Jazz Band.