March 20, 2009

Editorial:

Bea Estrada a Hero amongst us

Bea Estrada has been the strength and guiding force behind LULAC in South Bay for the past twenty four years, providing scholarships to our youth and feeding those a little less fortunate in the community. We are very saddened and sorry to report that today she is at home in bed after a week and half in the hospital. The doctors sent her home under Hospice care and they say that she has possibly two weeks left to live. Bea, at present, is with her family.

This editorial is a celebration of a special woman, who has had to deal with debilitating health issues much of her adult life, but refused to give in to them. For the past 24 years she has devoted her life to giving, supporting, and making life just a little bit better for thousands in our community. This editorial is about a real hero. This editorial is about a loving, caring woman.

Bea Estrada is a wife to Horace, a mother, and grandmother. She is about 65 years old. Bea stands at about 5 feet and walks with her ever present cane; she has had back problems and various other ailments which have caused her to live in constant pain over the years. She is slight in build. But it is her smile that captivates you, it lights up a room and it masks the physical and emotional burden that she carries around each and every day.

Despite the physical ailments that would cause most people to focus on their personal health and well being, Bea chose instead to continue working and supporting our youth through scholarships and by providing food to the less fortunate.

Bea’s legacy will be her work with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), San Diego Council #2842, and their annual scholarship and recognition awards program. This program has given cash awards to Hispanic and minority youth as an incentive for continued good work in school, to granting four year scholarships to some of our brightest students who have had to overcome social and economical barriers to succeed and in all likelihood would be the first in their family to attend college.

The scholarship/awards program was started in 1985 with just a couple of hundred dollars and a handful of students has grown over the past 24 years. Bea has built relations with some of San Diego’s successful businesses such as the local Anheuser-Busch, Safeway stores, Nordstroms, and the Padres to name a few, to raise $15,000 yearly to award, on average, 45 students, touching their lives and helping pave their road to future success.

Then there is the food basket program that LULAC has put together over the same period of time. Food baskets that are given out each year, at Christmas, and Thanks-giving, to families in the South Bay who would benefit from this program.

LULAC’s food basket program started out giving 25 baskets to families in need. They currently deliver 250 baskets to families in need each holiday. It takes a warehouse space such as that provided by the local Amory and dozens of volunteers, along with the generous donations of individuals and corporations to provide the food and resources that make the difference between having a turkey dinner or not during these holidays.

Both of these programs are run out the home of Bea and Horace and the homes of the LULAC members. All the monies raised go towards the scholarships, the food baskets, and the annual scholarship luncheon. None of the money goes to salaries, office space, cars or any of the other extra little perks one might expect from such a fundraising effort.

All of this has been accomplished because of the drive and guidance of one person – Bea Estrada.

It is often said that you can tell the true character of a person, not when things are going well, but when in times of stress and trouble is when the person’s true character comes to surface.

Bea Estrada was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago. But just prior to that, the Monday before, very ill and with a scheduled doctors appointment, Bea was called at home early that morning by one of the schools telling her of a family that desperately need food. Bea, who is not a rich person by any means, went out and bought food for the family and delivered it. Her friend Martha Lerman, arrived at her house at 8:30 in the morning to pick her up for the appointment. Not finding her at home she was worried. When she did show up a few minutues later Martha asked her why she was doing this? Bea said ‘because they needed it.’

A true hero is someone who thinks of others before they think of themselves. Bea Estrada is a true hero.

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