San Manuel Band of Mission Indians & Nonprofit Partners Celebrate “Acting on Beliefs” at Seventh Annual Forging Hope Breakfast

From left: Lynn Valbuena, Chairwoman, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Melonie Calderon, Business Committee Member, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Alfonso Martinez, Youth Committee Chairman, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Patricia Trudell Gordon, Indian Youth of America, Erin Phillips, CEO, Children's Fund, Cheryl Marshall, President, Crafton Hills College, Father Michael Barry, President & Chairman of the Board, Mary's Mercy Center.

From left: Lynn Valbuena, Chairwoman, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Melonie Calderon, Business Committee Member, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Alfonso Martinez, Youth Committee Chairman, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Patricia Trudell Gordon, Indian Youth of America, Erin Phillips, CEO, Children’s Fund, Cheryl Marshall, President, Crafton Hills College, Father Michael Barry, President & Chairman of the Board, Mary’s Mercy Center.

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA – Creating positive and meaningful change in the community is never easy but through strong partnerships with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, area and regional nonprofit organizations are making a significant difference in Southern California and across the nation. To recognize the amazing achievements its nonprofit partners have made in the last year, the tribe honored four organizations that embody and demonstrate the time-honored Serrano concept of Yawa’ – to manifest one’s beliefs through action – at the seventh annual Forging Hope Breakfast March 24 in San Bernardino.

The Children’s Fund, Mary’s Mercy Center, Crafton Hills Foundation’s Increasing Engagement, Employment & Knowledge (ISEEK) program and Indian Youth of America were the four nonprofits receiving San Manuel’s prestigious Yawa’ Award.

“Year after year these organizations continue to amaze us with the incredible actions they take to better all of our communities,” said San Manuel Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena. “They bring to life the call to act for the benefit of others and are a true testament to the life-changing power of Yawa’ that we celebrate today.”

Awards were presented in four philanthropic focus areas – education, health, economic development and special projects.

The tribe recognized Children’s Fund in the area of health for their commitment to provide key support to at-risk children. Since it’s inception in 1986, Children’s Fund has served more than 1.4 million local children to help meet the needs of the region’s most vulnerable youth and give them the chance in life they deserve.

Mary’s Mercy Center was honored with the Yawa’ Award in the area of economic development for its work to provide the less fortunate with essential needs through two programs. Mary’s Table provides hot lunches, clothing, health screenings and other services. Veronica’s Home of Mercy and Casa Merced I, II and III offers women and their young children an alternative to abuse and/or homelessness with the opportunity to regroup and get a start on a better life than they have known.

In the area of education, the tribe awarded Crafton Hills College Foundation’s Increasing Engagement, Employment & Knowledge (ISEEK) program that combines scholarships and student employment opportunities to help students stay connected to school, succeed in their classes and reach their educational goals. While on-campus student employment helps students pay for school-related and other expenses, scholarships encourage student success, offer inspiration and validate the importance of an education.

Lastly, Indian Youth of America (IYA) was recognized with the Yawa’ Award in special projects for improving the quality of life for Indian children. Since 1976, IYA has served Indian youth from 192 tribes and 33 states through various programs including summer camps, Christmas programs and backpack and school supplies programs. Embracing the belief that “they are young once but Indian forever,” IYA’s goal is to enable Indian youth to establish a self-supporting life while always remembering that their background will be their strength and pride.

“We recognize these four organization’s for their tireless efforts in the community and look forward to continuing our work together in our own and other communities,” Valbuena said.

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