By Cheeravath Aphipunyo
Peacemaker Honorees stand amongst Councilman Dee Andrews, Mayor Bob Foster, and other City Council members.
It seems that, so often, those who spend their time improving our community go unrecognized. On our local news stations we watch reports about homicides, suicides, celebrity news, and trends. But when do we get to meet and learn about the people who are active in creating a better place for us, our friends and our families? And how can we get involved in the process of solving the problems we—which we might not realize —face everyday? On Tuesday, the 10th of January, five Jr. Peace Maker awards were given in honor of Peace Week, a week-long celebration before Long Beach’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace & Unity Parade on the 14th.
Awardees were chosen based on their active contribution to the community through volunteering, advocacy for nonviolence, peace-making, and community building. Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews, who honored the awardees, says, “The Peace Maker Award acknowledges the spirit in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated compassionate, non-violent strategies toward peace and community building which are ideas we value in the City of Long Beach.”
This year’s Peace Maker Awardees include Food Bank of Southern California, Darryl Smith, King Chan, Ralphs Food 4 Less, and Jessica Quintana.
Named the Community Female Honoree, Jessica Quintana, a key leader of the Centro CHA organization which advocates for the well being of low-income, underrepresented Hispanic children says, “I feel very honored and blessed. It’s my commitment and promise to the neighborhood that we will continue to provide safe places for children and families.” Quintana adds, “No person does this all by themself. I’m very lucky to have a team of staff members who are dedicated and committed.”
Also recognized was Ralphs Food 4 Less as the Community Business Honoree. Ralphs Food 4 Less has sponsored and is continuing to sponsor peace and community building events in the City of Long Beach. A representative says, “It is very important for us to serve the community that we work and live in. It really helps us get out to our customer and makes our community a better place.”
King Chan is the Youth Honoree. A former Gay-Straight Alliance Network statewide advocacy member, Chan spoke before audiences on topics related to human relations, gang warfare, and homelessness. He also served as a program facilitator for the California Conference for Equality & Justice.
Darryl Smith, Community Male Honoree, was unable to attend and accept the award himself so his mother accepted it for him. Smith was awarded for his efforts as a youth football coach, mentor, counselor, and advocate on behalf of youth. He finds passion in education awareness and taking action to building a healthier community.
Last to be recognized for the Peace Maker Award as the Community Group Honoree was the Food Bank of Southern California. Since 1975, it has provided for needy families, children, and seniors in the Los Angeles County Area. Distributing over 6.5 million pounds of fresh produce a year, it is the largest food bank in the state. At the least, they serve 250,000 people a week, roughly 2.5% of the county population.