LGBT, education, faith: How American Latinos are redefining ‘heroes’

On Thursday, CNN aired the 10th annual Heroes of the Year Awards in Atlanta, Georgia. The program recognizes ten individuals for making significant contributions to society. Fox News Latino profiled some of the notable honorees and the situations they represent:

Education for Those in Need: The Espiritu de México Foundation in Miami provides free education opportunities to children in need in El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, and Cuba. The program is one of three similar nonprofit groups around the country that educate generations of Latino Americans in tough neighborhoods. Eduardo Solorzano, President of the Espiritu de México Foundation and the father of the organization, explains that as a native of Honduras and a son of immigrants, his heart is always in that country.


Run a School: In the small agricultural town of Tadte’ia, in Panama, Geraldo Mena has been raising sheep for 14 years. But as a single father raising his four daughters – three of whom are disabled – the duties of caring for them are overwhelming. Mena decided to make a change to help his community by opening Mena’s Rescue School in 2012. The “model” school has placed over 150 preschoolers into surrounding homes, farms, and schools, by teaching the basics of life, working literacy, and agricultural skills.


Run a School: Today is the seventeenth anniversary of his death. And in his memory, hundreds of people assembled at Fresno’s Burney Elementary School to remember his life and legacy with an event that was full of love and laughter. Mr. Burney was a beloved longtime middle school teacher who passed away suddenly back in 2005. His family and many of his former students and colleagues gathered to remember his life and legacy.

Agriculture: From a farming community in south Georgia, Lauryn Powell is a local hero. An active member of her church, she speaks on the importance of healthy nutrition for all, and growing her own food. Powell runs a non-profit called ShareReach, which focuses on teaching kids about healthy nutrition in farm-fresh, locally grown produce. Powell is a proud supporter of the AVID mentoring program which helps kids who might struggle academically in high school gain entrance to college.

Faith and Living: Sister Bridget Holmstrom is a follower of the Congregation of Divine Mercy – the largest Catholic missionary community in the world – who mentors men and women from other religious orders around the world. She lives with her family in the rural Delaware town of Memphis, where she serves as the school chaplain and in charge of local caregiving initiatives. Her ministry is anchored in the belief that people who get married are the most important thing to family – the people who surround you with love are your true family.

Faith and Living

Faith and Living: On March 8, Abdul Kareem was among the victims of the high-speed train crash in Spain which took the lives of at least 87 people. It is still uncertain what the US-born Jordanian-Egyptian-Palestinian-American would be thinking about his death if he were still alive. Kareem worked with Ramadan charities and community groups for two decades. He and his wife Alaa lived in Los Angeles and spent six months living in Spain before going on to run the Haram Mosque in Spain.

Bipolar: Jamiel Shaw, Sr. of Los Angeles, California became a force in the community when his son – Jamiel Jr. – was shot to death by a street gang member. Shaw said he is dedicated to turning his son’s murder into a greater good by motivating young boys in the neighborhood to stay out of gangs.

Eduardo Solorzano and Geraldo Mena are named to the list, respectively, for their contributions to communities in Miami, Panama, Georgia, Delaware, and California.

Watch highlights from the Fox News Latino’s coverage of this year’s Heroes of the Year, which we originally featured on Youtube, here:

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