The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) honored an activist, a coach and two educators at its 25th annual Women’s Reception on Aug. 24 at Paine’s Restaurant and Bar. San Benito High School Director of Educational Services Elaine Klauer and activist Shirley Treviño were presented with Women of the Year awards, while San Benito High School wrestling coach Samantha Barrientos and Stockton educator Reina Gonzales received the Young Women of the Year awards.
San Benito County Office of Education Superintendent Krystal Lomanto, who acted as the event’s emcee, introduced Klauer and highlighted the various positions she’s held, including Rancho San Justo Middle School principal and San Benito High School assistant principal.
“She changed the face of Rancho,” Lomanto told the gathering. “She improved school culture, began a systematic 15-day check-in for students, began the full implementation of professional learning communities and began development of equitable assessment and grading practices.”
Lomanto also presented the honorees with certificates of congressional recognition from Congressman Jimmy Panetta. State Senator Anna Caballero, State Assemblyman Robert Rivas and San Juan Bautista Mayor Cesar Flores also presented the honorees with certificates of recognition.
The event included raffles and a silent auction whose proceeds went to the LULAC scholarship fund. Among the items auctioned were wine, succulents, Frida Kahlo paintings and gift baskets. LULAC set aside time to remember Patsy Teresa Zuniga, who passed away on July 12. Zuniga was a local artist and served as president of the San Benito County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
LULAC member and former Hollister Councilwoman Mickie Luna introduced Treviño as the role model and movitator of the county’s Young Adults chapter. Luna told the audience Treviño was named one of the most 100 influential Latinos in Silicon Valley.
“I have never seen the young adults get so motivated at meetings,” Luna said. “And some of those girls just want to go because they want to hear Shirley.”
Treviño, a Santa Clara University alumna, has over 40 years of experience in labor relations and served as vice president of the nonprofit Economic & Social Opportunities.
In her acceptance speech, she dedicated the award to her family and said that though her father died when she was two years old, her mother taught her to be strong, humble and to give without expecting anything in return. As she shared some of her successes in changing the world, she encouraged the audience to focus on successes.
“It is not the no’s that are important as much as the yes’s because it is when we act on yes that we can do it. Then we do do it,” Treviño said.
Veronica Lezema, president of the San Benito Mexican American Committee on Education, and Hollister School District Trustee Carla Torres de Luna continued the ceremony by introducing Barrientos and Gonzales, both born and raised in Hollister.
Barrientos is a McKendree University alumna, where she played softball and wrestled. San Benito High School hired her as the first head girls’ wrestling coach in 2018. Gonzales is an alumna of the University of the Pacific and a teacher at Primary Years Academy in Stockton.
Both recipients thanked LULAC for helping them grow from shy teens into community leaders.
“LULAC has shaped me into the person I am today, like she [Gonzales] said, and I’m really excited about what the future holds,” Barrientos said.