Event honors women for their achievements

ROCHESTER — During Latinas Unidas’ 22nd-annual awards luncheon Nov. 12 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester, Stephanie Paredes recognized her mother upon receiving a Reconocimiento Award for Professional Achievement.

"You have sacrificed so much so that I would have a better life," said Paredes, the multicultural student life manager at Rochester Institute of Technology. "Everything God has given me is because of you."

After translating her comments from Spanish to English, Paredes also joked, "This is America, people. You should all learn Spanish."

Paredes was one of four local Latinas who were recognized during the luncheon, which more than 280 people attended.

Mayer Lovely Warren (left) hugs Stephanie Paredes after Paredes received an award for professional achievement Nov. 12 at the Latinas Unidas Annual Reconocimiento Awards at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rochester.

The others were:

* Beverly Sirvent, director for the migrant program for Finger Lakes Community Health, for inspirational leadership.

* Sady Fischer, consumer engagement program manager for Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency and a diversity trainer, for volunteer service.

* Mayra Rodríguez, a Webster Thomas High School senior, as Young Latina Leader.

Special "Amiga" awards also were given to County Executive Maggie Brooks and Ana Rodríguez, who has provided financial support to Latinas Unidas’ annual Soy Única! Soy Latina girls’ rally.

Sirvent, a native of Mexico City, urged the audience to be ever mindful that the food that they enjoy comes from the work of migrant workers. In her role at Finger Lakes Community Health, she developed a mobile medical program and expanded migrant health services.

To emphasize the need to support migrant workers, Sirvent read from Matthew 25:35-36: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.

"I hope we all in whatever job we do, we view farmworkers, the homeless, incarcerated … mentally ill as people needing to live, to have a place in society, to be treated as human beings," she said. "What will you do to help?"

Also during the event, artist Peggy Martínez, a longtime member of Latinas Unidas, painted a portrait while accompanied by violinist Marina Ramos, the Young Latina Leader in 2009, and pianist Stephanie Honz.

The achievements of several other former Young Latina Leaders also were highlighted. Daisy Rivera-Algarín, former Latinas Unidas president, said that many people often inquire about the past recipients.

Samantha Meléndez graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and works for Wegmans in Fairfax, Va., as employee representative. Brandy Soublet is a U.S. Marine officer currently assigned as a company officer for the U.S. Naval Academy following stints with the Third Combat Engineer Battalion in 29 Palms, Calif. Her battalion was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013. Soublet was featured in an El Mensajero Católico article in July 2012.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more or become a member of Latinas Unidas, visit latinasunidas.org.

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