Thursday marked the Ninth Annual Civic Engagement Awards Luncheon at The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.
The event honors faculty, students and organizations who give back to the community.
Christina Gonzalez-Salgado, the service-learning coordinator at the Center for Community Engagement, explained the significance of the ceremony.
“We do this on an annual basis to recognize those who are truly representing Cal Poly Pomona … [and] one of our core values, which is service,” she said. “This event is to honor those folks who have really been the leaders of that. These are the people that really have just gone above and beyond.”
Terri Gomez, chair of the ethnic and women’s studies department, won the Faculty Award for Civic Engagement. Gomez thanked her parents for instilling a good work ethic in her when she was young.
“Work hard, give back to your community, and never forget where you come from,” she said to the crowd. “I’m honored to work at a university that values experiential learning, that encourages our students to get out into their community and apply the knowledge that they are learning in their classroom.”
Gomez is also involved with the Pomona Boys & Girls Club, the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center. She also teaches women’s studies at the California Institute for Women in Chino.
Juan Araya won the Staff Award for Civic Engagement. Araya is a site technician and agro-ecologist at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies, and has been involved in many projects specializing in food security, food system education and food production. Currently, he is leading efforts to develop a 2.5-acre organic community farm at Lopez Elementary School in Pomona.
Kingsley Elementary School in Pomona won the Community Partner Award. Kingsley Principal Laura Solis and teacher Carole Glass, both CPP alumnae, accepted the award. They thanked their staff and the college students who work with and inspire the young students at Kingsley.
International Honor Society of Sociology Alpha Kappa Delta won the Student Organization Award. Fourth-year student Katie Ontjes enjoyed the ceremony and was happy that her organization Alpha Kappa Delta received an award.
“It’s nice that our efforts have been appreciated and that we are in fact impacting the community,” she said. “We have our hands in all kinds of research…so we are really social work based because we want to make a difference.”
Orlando Smith won the Student Award. Smith has spoken at many universities about overcoming obstacles and reaching one’s full potential. In addition to being a motivational speaker, Smith is also involved in environmental projects such as beach clean-ups and electronics recycling, and he also plans to write a book.
Finally, University President Michael Ortiz and his wife Betty Ortiz won the newly created Legacy of Service award and received a standing ovation.
“Being recognized as the first Legacy award recipients was a special treat for Betty and me,” he said in a written statement to the Poly Post. “We have been involved in community and service learning for many years and this award acknowledging that was quite an honor.”
The Center for Community Engagement Director Michael Millar said Ortiz and his wife have made many contributions to CPP.
“President and Mrs. Ortiz have led the university through the support of the programs such as our center,” he said. “He was involved in community engagement at Fresno State, so before he got here he’s been a big proponent of community engagement in the whole Cal State system. He’s truly one of the leaders who made this a part of this university.”
Millar also says that the Civic Engagement Awards are important for recognizing some of the Center’s less visible programs and the volunteers who work behind the scenes.
“It’s a good showcase for everything we do in our serving learning and our volunteering,” he said. “It showcases all the people who do such great work.”
The Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch served lunch while guests enjoyed music by The Pocket Square Trio.