RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Three Bernalillo and two Rio Rancho residents will be honored later this month for their community service work that has helped local and native Filipinos.
The Filipino American National Historical Society Rio Grande Chapter will award Rio Rancho residents Scott Berry and Louie Velasquez and Bernalillo residents Wallace Winter, Veronica Rodriguez Jumalon and Maj. Gloria Kauz the Pamana Awards during a Sept. 26 ceremony.
Winter, a retired nurse and Air Force lieutenant, and Rodriguez Jumalon, who works as a nurse for Presbyterian, traveled to Panay Island in the Philippines in early 2014 with Project HOPE. The two helped provide medical care for the local people there.
Wallace, who moved to Texas from Bernalillo earlier this month, said his former neighbors in Bernalillo are in the medical field and also Filipino and asked him if he would consider traveling to Panay with Project Hope to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands of Filipinos as it devastated portions of Southeast Asia in November 2013.
Project HOPE is a nonprofit international health care organization that “delivers essential medicines and supplies, volunteers and medical training to prevent disease, promote wellness, respond to disaster,” according to its website.
Winter said although he initially went to help typhoon victims, people in the area where he was stationed didn’t have many injuries. Instead, he helped with basic medical care in local hospitals and clinics.
“It was so wonderful there and eye-opening,” he said. “We are so used to having so many comforts here.”
When he first arrived, there was no electricity because of the typhoon and a limited supply of clean water.
Rodriguez Jumalon could not be reached for an interview.
Bernalillo resident Gloria Kauz is also receiving an award for raising awareness about local Asian communities. Kauz has spearheaded Asian American/Pacific Islanders Heritage Month celebrations at Veterans Affairs for the past three years. She’s also president of the Federal Asian Pacific American Council.
Kauz was born in the Philippines and came to the United States after getting married. She is currently a registered nurse at the New Mexico Veterans Health Care Center. Kauz said her efforts are a way to give back to the community and raise awareness about her heritage and culture.
“I feel really honored and I feel really happy to get this award,” she said. “It will encourage me to further help more and continue to be a part of the community.”
Berry founded Educate Bohol, a nonprofit group, after traveling to the Philippines to build a church and realized students could not attend school because they did not have basic school supplies. The group partners with a small Christian school in the Philippines, helps provide college tuition and also works with local community members to identify and help children who are at risk of being pulled into the sex trade industry.
Velasquez is an Arnis Martial Arts Instructor. He teaches Filipino students locally and opened a martial arts school in Surigao city in the Philippines that emphasizes techniques someone can use to defend themselves against domestic violence.
Other Pamana awardees are: Theodore Jojola, who has done youth and veterans outreach, and the Ong Family – Welliver, Marigene, Francis and Sharmaine – who traveled to the Camarines Norte province to educate children about proper sanitation and help distribute school supplies.
The Manoa Youth award winner is Bianca White for being active in school groups, such as choir and Earth Club and for her work as a choreographer. Runners up are sisters Angelica and Gabriela Velez, who are both being honored for founding a hip hop dance group and volunteering at their church.