Bilingual radio station KBBF among those honored in first-ever Los Cien awards

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A bilingual radio station that provided crucial information about the 2017 wildfires to Spanish-speaking audiences and two women who have worked to better the lives of Latinos in Sonoma County were recognized for their efforts Friday during Los Cien’s first Puente & Ganas Awards.

More than 260 people, including local business leaders, community organizers and elected officials, attended the event hosted by Los Cien, a Latino leadership group, at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa. The crowd was treated to a traditional Oaxacan breakfast prepared by Sonoma County restaurateurs Pedro and Octavio Diaz and classical mariachi music from the center’s mariachi ensemble at the start of the gathering.

Alicia Sanchez, board president of Santa Rosa-based bilingual radio station KBBF-FM, accepted the Campeón Award, or Champion Award, bestowed upon the station. She recalled the station’s volunteer staff working nearly nonstop for two weeks after the October 2017 wildfires ripped through Sonoma County, providing life-saving information about the fire’s progression and impact.

“It was a time when we were so exhausted,” Sanchez said. “This award means so much.”

Santa Rosa resident Nohemi Palomino Andrade, a community volunteer responsible for organizing projects such as the Mochilada en Roseland, which collects hundreds of backpacks for needy families in Santa Rosa every August, was given the Bridge, or Puente, Award.

Palomino Andrade’s volunteer work includes coordinating an annual Pozole Night that raises funds for Roseland Creek Elementary School, she said. She also regularly donates her time at Roseland’s Bayer Farm, which operates a volunteer-run garden, and is a member of the Roseland Community Building Initiative.

For Palomino Andrade, her four kids inspire her to give back to the community, she said.

“They are my motor,” she said after the event. “I feel happy.”

Gabriela Bernal, chief operating officer for Santa Rosa Community Health, which runs several health centers throughout Sonoma County’s biggest city, was praised for her quick work to restore services to thousands of patients after the provider’s largest health center was destroyed in the 2017 firestorm. In her role, she oversaw the opening of three new medical sites within two months of the fire. She was presented with the Ganas Award, named after the Spanish word for motivation.

All three women were given a standing ovation after they were called to the stage. Other speakers included Daniel Pablo, a Santa Rosa Junior College student trustee who said his experiences with Los Cien and the Wine Country Young Democrats have inspired him to run for political office in the future. Rosie Zuniga, a former Sonoma State University student who spoke at a Los Cien event last year, said her participation with the leadership group helped her land her current job at the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber and has motivated her to lend a helping hand to other youth.

“Yes we are the future but we are also the present,” she said. “We need a seat at the table.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.

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