Local Heroes honored for their work and their inspiration for future generations!


By Greta Kcomt

Local Heroes honored by KPBS and Union Bank.
Local Heroes honored by KPBS and Union Bank.

“Those caped and masked heroes are no longer the only ones being recognized. This past Sunday, November 16th, KPBS and Union Bank joined forces to award and recognize 2014 San Diego’s local heroes. This annual event held at one of SDSU’s newest buildings, Conrad Preby’s Aztec Student Union, was all about recognizing who these heroes and how they impact our community.

From every part of San Diego, the Heroes and their closest friends and family, got together under one roof to celebrate the diversity that is the people of San Diego and their accomplishments.

The honoree’s for Black history month are: Cosmetologist, Tessie Bonner, who aids in the fight against breast cancer in the African American community, and the three resilient Montford Point Marines; Retired Gunnery Sergeant Dr. Carrel Reavis, Retired First Sergeant Joe Earl Jackson, and Retired Gunnery Sergeant J.T. Inge, who inspire young men and woman of all racial background with their strength and have shaped the history of the country we live in.

The honorees for American Indian Heritage month are: Roy Cook, Opata Oodham, and Dr. Daniel Joseph Calac, Chief Medical Officer, Indian Health Council, both men are active in preserving and the health and heritage in the American Indian heritage.

The honorees for Disability awareness month are: Alex Montoya: Manager of Latino Affairs, San Diego Padres, and Travis David Ricks: Senior Programs Manager and Athlete Relations, Challenged Athletes Foundation, both demonstrating that nothing is unattainable with hard work and loving family and friends.

The honorees for the LGBT Pride month are: Rev. Canon Albert J. Ogle, Founder and President, St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, and Robert H. Gleason, President and Chief Executive Officer, Evans Hotels, both of these men are living proof that equality and rights for equal marriage although reached in some parts of this country, isn’t enough and that tomorrow is always a new day of fighting and growing.

The Asian Pacific American Heritage Month honorees: Dr. Allen Chan, Owner, Jasmine Seafood Restaurant, and Dr. Murugappa C. Madhavan, Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University, both aid in preserving the diverse Asian Pacific culture and teaching the rest of San Diego about their peaceful and colorful culture.

The honoree’s for the Jewish American Heritage Month are: Helene Bortz and Myrice Goldberg, Co-Founders, Jewish Gift Closet, and Edward P. Samiljan, Co-founder and Board Member, Camp Mountain Chai, these heroes not only give to the young Jewish community in San Diego, but also to anyone who needs a helping hand.

For Women’s History Month the honorees are: M. Eloise Battle, Volunteer-Education Program Coordinator, Friends of Tecolote Canyon, and Vickie E. Turner, Esq., Partner, Wilson Turner Kosmo LLP, who are not only role models for women, but also for young men who pursue a higher level education or to see a big change in their community.

Last but certainly not least, the 2014 honorees for the Hispanic Heritage Month are two amazing women who show that there is change in the Hispanic community of San Diego.

Myra Curiel who aged out of the foster care system now helps aging out of foster youths with ‘Move in Kits’, to help them get on their feet, Myra is also one of the youngest KPBS Heroes. Carmen Kcomt, the other honoree and with whom I’m very close to, this award winner with her participation and work in the San Diego community goes above and beyond anyone’s expectations.

Working for La Maestra in a small, but growing legal department, advocates for immigrant families who come to her with “nothing but their lives” as she addressed the audience in her speech at the award ceremony. Ms. Kcomt’s speech went beyond thanking her close family and friends, and others who have helped her get to where she is now, motivating and moving the audience that filled the Concord hall stating: “Hoping that those hard worker, undocumented immigrants who are honest, they are already here, and they are paying taxes, can be granted with an immigration status; Hoping that we will recognize and respect the human rights of our LGBT community; Hoping that the displaced people from Columbia and other places will find a refugee status in a safe country.” From these statements we can see that Carmen Kcomt is more than a Local Hero but an advocate for human rights, equality, and diversity.

Much like her, many of the other heroes awarded Sunday night are on life missions to aid, teach and inspire the current and new generation of San Diegans, which their influence in each of their communities will pass onto the next. The following quote said by a Hero seemed to sum up the entire night, “Only a life lived in the service of others is a life worth living”.

If you find yourself wanting to learn more about these local heroes’ stories and missions be sure to go on KPBS.org and search for the 2014 local heroes tab, if you find yourself surrounded by someone you consider to be a hero, you can nominate them on the same page.

Congratulations to all the KPBS and Union Bank Hero award recipients, especially to my inspiring aunt, big or small, you are changing the lives of the people you help and inspiring and filling with pride your friends and family.”

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