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The Democrat – September 9, 2010

Woodland Mosque Education Director honored


Four community members and one organization were honored Friday night at the 4th Annual Unity Dinner Celebration, sponsored by the Latino Community Council, the City of Woodland and many others.Latin_community_honors-3A

Held at the Woodland Community and Senior Center, the Aguila Unity Awards honor individuals and organizations who have significantly promoted diversity and inclusion within the community.

Edgar Lampkin, LCC vice chairman, introduced Sylvina Frausto as the first recipient. "She has made a tremendous impact in the Latino community," Edgar said. "Most notably, (Frausto) has given many silent community members a voice to be heard."

Having survived domestic violence and abuse herself, the Catholic parish secretary has worked with others to benefit the community for more than 20 years, primarily in the areas of community violence reduction, education and improved housing for low income families. She has been instrumental in gathering resources for free legal advice regarding citizenship as well as improving street lighting in bad neighborhoods.

"I was able to come out of that abuse and kept my head above water swimming ... like Nemo," Frausto said. "I see situations as they are, but I see wonderful, positive solutions. What I do, what I have done, is not by myself. All of us have gifts and talents to share."Latin_community_honors-1A

The second Aguila Unity Award recipient of the evening was Mohammad Usman Sadiq, a Woodland High School graduate, senior engineer with Cal Trans and a leader in the Muslim Woodland Mosque, with a congregation of about 300.

"(Sadiq) works from the premise that people from different communities really do want to interact," said Jesse Ortiz, LCC past chairman.

"Everybody has differences, but we can use those differences as a strength," Sadiq said, who credited his award to the people he works with. "I feel very encouraged to continue the work of American Muslim Voice and the work in the community."

(Picture from left shows: Khalid Saeed, AMV National President & Public Relations Director of Woodland Mosque;  Muhammad Usman Sadiq, Director of Education, Woodland Mosque; Dr.Jesse Ortiz,  Zahoor Ahmad and Mayor of Woodland Art Pimental)

Olga Nevarez, LCC executive board member in charge of communications, introduced Gary Sandy, a social needs advocate for the community, of children in particular.

The former Woodland mayor was instrumental in the completion of Pioneer High School, in building a second gym for Woodland High School, other school improvements, affordable senior housing projects and initiating "Davis Neighbors Night Out," not to mention being on the board of several local organizations.

"I'm honored to be a recipient," Sandy told the audience. "Community is important and that's really what we're here to celebrate tonight rather than individuals."Latin_community_honors-2A

Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel introduced the final individual recipient, Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, who, in 1972, was the first in her family to graduate from college. The former Yolo County Supervisor received her bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado in psychology with an emphasis in mental health issues of Asian Americans.

"(Yamada) has always been very conscious of diversity," Pimentel said. "We appreciate the unity she embodies."

Yamada was born in Denver after her family's release from the Manzanar War Relocation Center, one of 10 Japanese internment camps established during World War II.

"How is it that one becomes a student of diversity or a cheerleader of inclusion?" Yamada asked, who recognized that she was born during a time of discrimination. "All of our life experiences we should look at as tools to be navigators of peace."Latin_community_honors-4A

Friday's final Aguila Unity Award recipient was given to the Yolo Wayfarer Center, which is celebrating its 25 year anniversary as a formal nonprofit organization. In 2009 alone, the Center provided 65,000 meals, 15,000 showers, and 14,000 bed nights, 7,000 units of service including phone and address service and 3,300 loads of laundry.

What began as a grass-roots effort to hand out peanut butter sandwiches and bananas to Woodland's homeless population, now serves an average of 50 individuals nightly, and continues to be a place where all people are welcomed and treated with respect.

"It's no surprise that the previous award recipients have helped to make the Yolo Wayfarer Canter the success it is," said Director Leona Jull, who accepted the award on the Center's behalf. "It's a blessing to reach out to people when their hope is lost and inspire them. It really takes all of us. Understand the difference that you make."