Thursday, April 1, 2010

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez Awards for Women of Distinction

Senator Menendez's mother, Evangelina, was a powerful force in the his life. He decided to honor women for Women’s History Month in his first "Women of Distinction" Trailblazer Awards. The lovely event took place on Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Fairleigh Dickenson University in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Here is a picture of this year's honorees with the Senator

The honorees are: Mary Jo Codey, Former First Lady of New Jersey; Judy Hyde, New Jersey PTA President, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, New Jersey Assembly Speaker, Noemi Velazquez, Chairwoman, LUPE ,(Latinas United for Political Empowerment), Joan Verplanck, President, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Maryann Woods-Murphy, New Jersey Teacher of the Year

Each awardee spoke for one minute to accept the award. What I said, follows a picture of me speaking to the group.

"Today, I am one of the proud recipients of Senator Menendez’s Women of Distinction Award in celebration of Woman’s History Month.

I am proud to be joined here today by my husband, Joe, daughter, Melynda and granddaughter, Olyvia, brother, Jim, nieces Patty, Lisa and Jessica as well as by many good friends and public officials. Thank you for being here! It means the world to me!
I know that my late parents, Henry and Frances Woods would have been so proud. I recognize that they are the ones who gave me the generous gift of love and the core value of justice that gives me the courage to think and speak out.
Years ago, when I was twenty-two years old, I left this country and traveled to Spain with my young husband to learn Spanish. We made a pact to speak no English at all and so, in my third month of marriage, I volunteered to give up my voice.
Lucky thing, I learned fast enough to understand that we had arrived in Spain during this country’s dramatic transition to democracy.  It was a time that Spain was learning how to use its voice after forty harsh years of dictatorship.
Spain and I found our words and I have never been the same since!
By having the experience of fumbling for words and then making them solid, in an entirely new language, I have grown strong enough to speak on issues of importance with more courage and passion. 
This award means so much to me, Senator Menendez, because I am a high school teacher, being lifted up as an important community voice.
By honoring me, you respect the members of my profession, who work tirelessly with children across our state. You encourage the efforts of my students, whom I have taught to embrace the diverse world and to learn the languages, which hold the key to the deep riches of culture.
By honoring my co-awardees, Senator, you honor the voice and power of women everywhere who have benefitted from the struggles for equal rights, the power of the vote and the clarity of our political voices. 
I am extraordinarily humbled and honored by this distinction. Thank you! Muchas gracias a todos por estar aqui con nosotros."

Here's a picture of me receiving the award from the Senator and his daughter, Alicia!

Finally, here are a couple of happy pictures of my husband Joe, daughter, Melynda, Olyvia and me with Senator Menendez after the ceremony!

No comments: