Latinas Unidas honors several for their service

ROCHESTER — Several of the women who helped create Latinas Unidas were honored for their many years of service during the 17th-annual Reconocimiento Awards held last month.

Latinas Unidas president, Daisy Rivera-Algarin, honored the group of women who first gathered with her in a friend’s living room more than 17 years ago to create an organization that strives to promote, educate and recognize the success of Latinas in the community, she said. Those original members who went on to serve on the organization’s board of directors and are stepping down included vice president Elisa DeJesus; secretary Iveth Reynolds; and at-large board members Jackie Ruffalo, Kelly Mullaney and Karina Flaherty.

"I’m not saying goodbye," remarked Rivera-Algarin, who has been nominated for a second term as president. "I’m saying, ‘Vaya con Dios.’"

Rivera-Algarin also announced during the luncheon, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Rochester, that the fee has been eliminated for a basic membership to make Latinas Unidas more accessible to the community. Latinas Unidas became incorporated as a nonprofit organization two years ago.

"It’s open to everyone," she said. "And it’s free."

Four Reconicimiento Awards were presented during the luncheon:

Diana Irizarry, magistrate with Monroe County Family Court, received the Volunteer Achievement award for her eight years of service with the Lawyers for Learning committee that helps students at School No. 29.

Sara Jordan, a bilingual nurse at Unity Hospital, was honored with the Career Achievement award for overcoming adversity as a teenage mother who went on to graduate from Nazareth College.

Marisol O. Ramos-López, a neighborhood service center administrator in the city’s department of neighborhood and business development, received the Leadership Achievement award; she serves on several boards and has helped raise nearly $100,000 for the Bivona Child Advocacy Center that serves children who have been physically or sexually abused.

Nicolette Kane, an Our Lady of Mercy High School senior, received the Youth Latina Leadership award for achieving academic excellence while also playing sports and volunteering at school and in her neighborhood.

Upon receiving the award, Irizarry said she has been able to achieve success in her life and career because of the people who have helped her along the way as far back as her days growing up in a tenement building in Manhattan.

"I’ve always been helped by the goodness of others," she said.

Irizarry and Ramos-López also mentioned family sayings that also have helped guide them on their respective paths.

"My mom’s favorite saying was, ‘No hay mal que por bien no venga (There’s nothing so bad from which good can’t come of it)," Ramos-López said. "That has become my way of life."

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