(bw) STOCKTON, CA — “These women are courageous, have perseverance, and lots of strength,” said Connie Martinez, co-chair of the Adelita Awards at the Mexican Heritage Center and Gallery while explaining that they selected women who are not necessarily in the spotlight. “There are a lot of women that do not have the opportunity to have a university degree; but they work really hard throughout their lives.”
For the past three years, the Mexican Heritage Center and Gallery has recognized community women with the Adelita Award. The concept of the award is based on, “women who fought in the Mexican revolution —The Adelitas.”
This year, the three recipients of the Adelita Award were Julia Hernandez, Maria Elena Rada Bonilla and Maria Herrera.
Julia Hernández, married Salvador Hernandez and arrived to the United States in 1961. She is known to her friends as always caring for her family and the welfare of others. Her focus on others gave her little time to herself and therefore had little time to learn English. She worked endless hours in the fields with her children; helping her husband. When visiting professional services, she would tell her four children she envisioned them working professional careers wearing a suit and tie. Her son Jose Hernandez, who grew to became an astronaut remembers that she always used the word WHEN and not IF when speaking of their future. Every evening she would have her children sit at the kitchen table to watch them do their homework as she made dinner. All of her children have been successful in their lives, making Julia a very proud and beloved mother.
Maria Elena Rada Bonilla had a life changing moment at a young age following a robbery at her parent’s business. At age of 10 she went to work in a factory where socks were made. She worked there for several years, eventually becoming the head supervisor and helpted to make the business a success. At age 20 she came to the United States on a vacation visa and it was during that vacation she met Ben Gates; the man who would become her husband. She attended San Joaquin Delta College and even though she confronted major health issues she earned her Associates Degree. She worked for Stockton Unified School District earning her retirement in 2010. Today Maria continues her passion to serve children as she is a teacher assistant at Head Start.
Maria Herrera has lived in Stockton all her life. She attended Stockton Schools and graduated from Franklin High School. Maria married Miguel Jr. with whom she had two sons. In 1983 she joined the family business, Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant. In 2008 her husband Miguel became ill and passed away leaving Maria to run the business. Herrera has expanded the restaurant to include a large banquet room and full bar where she hosts several fundraisers for various non-profit community groups. “She is a champion for Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services Program,” Noted Rosie D’Arcy program Coordinator at Catholic Charities. Maria also donates food and time to fundraising events for Hospice of San Joaquin, Child Abuse Prevention Council, the Homeless Shelter and San Joaquin’s Lion’s Club. She sponsors little league softball team, CYO girls basketball teams and other programs.
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