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Esperanza honors two PCSD members

Two members of the Poughkeepsie City School District were honored Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at Esperanza Dutchess County Hispanic organization’s 12th Annual Community Service Awards Brunch. The brunch recognizes individuals and businesses for their dedication, commitment, and contributions to the political and social climate in their communities.

Fatimah Carmen Luisa Martinez Santiago, PCSD Board of Education vice president and Becky Torres, PCSD clerk of the board, were among the seven honorees recognized at the event. The others were Austin Flores, Tapas Restaurant & Bar restaurateur; Javier Gomez, manager of real estate development for Hudson River Housing; Tom Lewis, State Farm Insurance Agent; Elizabeth O’Raffity, STEM educator; and Lilia Perez, grants and programs manager at Arts Mid-Hudson.

Martinez Santiago was recognized for her long-standing work in communities located in Costa Rica, New York City, Dutchess, Ulster and Orange Counties. In 2008 her service was recognized by the Outward Bound National Network when she received the most prestigious recognition a staff member could receive, the Joshua L. Minor award. The Joshua L. Minor Award is given to those whose commitment and contributions to Outward Bound have improved the lives of students and staff and enhanced Outward Bound’s ability to fulfill its mission. In 2017, she was awarded the Compass Award for embodying the mission and exemplifying the Core Values of NYC Outward Bound Schools. Currently, Martinez Santiago is Astor Services for Children and Families first adult health and homecare manager and provides care coordination to adults.

Torres was recognized for her long-standing service to others in New York City and the Mid-Hudson Valley. Beyond her service to the district in her capacity as clerk of the board, Torres is a devout Christian, serving others through her involvement in her church. She sings in the choir, is a member of the worship team, serves as one of the in-house musicians and has served as a worship leader for youth - cultivating their talents and supporting their positive youth development. One of her favorite mottos is: “Dale al mundo lo mejor que tienes y lo mejor volvera’ a ti.” (Give the world the best you have and the best will come back to you).

The brunch was held on the ninth day of Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual recognition of the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States and a celebration of Hispanic Heritage and culture.

Esperanza is a local nonprofit organization committed to the betterment of the Latino community.

Norma Vicarrondo founded the organization in 1995 after noticing that the Latino population was growing in Dutchess County and were falling through the cracks of the American system due to language and cultural barriers.

Board members Tom O’Neill, president, and Bob Creedon attended along with Dr. Eric Jay Rosser, superintendent; Dr. Charles Gallo, assistant superintendent for secondary education; and Mr. Gregory Mott, assistant superintendent for elementary education.