Two weeks from Saturday, the C-U Immigration Forum will hand out the 10th edition of its Immigrant Welcome Awards in a ceremony at The Urbana Free Library. We’ll tell you more about the six set to be saluted between now and then but here’s a brief bio on each:
CITALY Y. STANTON Emergent Leader AwardA dentist in her native Mexico, she doubles as a New American Welcome Center case worker and, since May, the first Latina member of the Urbana school board. Interest in the dual language program and a desire to represent the Latino community motivated her to serve.
FLOR QUIROZStudent Leadership AwardAmong the UI Chancellor’s Scholar’s many contributions locally: translating and interpreting at community events, serving as a TA for Professor Ann Abbott’s “Spanish in the Community” course and volunteering with The Immigration Project and Daily Bread Soup Kitchen.
SHAWARMA JOINTBusiness Leadership AwardIn addition to serving scrumptious falafel, baba ganoush, tabouli salad and other go-to menu items at their Middle Eastern restaurants in Champaign and Urbana, co-owners Fadi Saleh and Tariq Judeh “are not afraid to help and serve those in need and so contribute to our communities,” their nominator said.
PAT NOLANClaire Szoke Distinguished Service AwardShe helps refugees sign up for benefits, identify food banks, get bus passes, find housing, furnish their homes, fill their pantries and move in — all behind the scenes, through her work at The Refugee Center, Immigration Services of C-U and Unitarian Universalist Church of U-C.
EFRAIN F. GASPARImmigrant Leadership AwardAfter moving here as a young man, he now supports others who took similar paths — especially those from Guatemala. He worked with Hugh Phillips to form El Centro por Los Trabajadores on campus and helped start the Q’anjob’al interpreting team, for speakers of the Mayan language.
THE REFUGEE CENTERCommunity Impact AwardFounded in 1980 by Vietnamese refugees, the non-profit has expanded its scope over the years, helping more than 2,500 clients acclimate to American culture in fiscal 2023 alone. Since August 2021, the center has resettled 97 Afghans and several Ukrainian families.