Chicano Alumni Chapter Annual Awards give five students scholarships

Friday will mark the 2012 Chicano Alumni Chapter Annual Awards Banquet as five scholarship recipients will be recognized, as well as the recipient of the Legacy Builder Award.

This year the chapter will grant five scholarships to Fresno State students Belen Gomez, Breanne Estrada, Lourdes Lazcano, Paulina Flores Jimenez and Vanessa Bautista Sandoval.

The Fresno State chapter will honor and present Alex Contreras, 60, of Donaghy Sales, Inc. with its Legacy Builder Award.

The award recognizes “somebody that has contributed over the years to our community over the years in different ways,” said Esther Ramos, president of the Chicano Alumni Chapter of Fresno State.

“This year we decided to chose Contreras for his long-standing contribution, not just in our community but the community in general and helping out so many nonprofits — so many community organizations — with different sponsorships through Donaghy and then helping them with fundraisers as well,” Ramos said.

Contreras said he felt honored because he knew the people that had been honored to receive the award in previous years as he had attended the banquet before.

“I had to ask him again if he was sure he was asking me — if he had the right Alex,” Contreras said laughingly when he became aware he would be the recipient of the honorary award.

For years, Contreras has reached out as an active member of organizations and as a board member of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce. His work with Donaghy Sales has allowed him to be able to help organizations.

Contreras helped organize Navidad en el Valle, or Christmas in the Valley, in 1977. This was a telethon that aired on Univision 21 for several years. The idea began when Contreras and other founding members saw a need in the community around the holiday season.

The program raised money to purchase toys for the outlying communities said Contreras. “They didn’t have as much help as the inner city did. That’s kind of how we focused out into the rural areas.”

Along with raising money for the underprivileged families, Contreras and two others helped bring about The Fresno Hispanic Scholarship Fund.  Contreras, Al Alacon and Alejandro Ruelas sought and received funds from Anheuser-Busch and “in conjunction with Fresno State and the national Hispanic Scholarship Fund,” Contreras said.

“I know it provided hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of the years to local students that were going to attend area colleges or universities, or universities outside of Fresno, but not limited to California,” Contreras said.

Tickets for the event are 50 dollars, and the event is open to the public. Tables and sponsorships are also available. The banquet will take place at the University Square Hotel located at 4961 N. Cedar at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14. Proceeds for the event will support the Chicano Alumni Scholarship Endowment.