Rich Thome, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Technology at the San Diego County Office of Education, was awarded the Willie Valasquez Community Service Award by the Chicano Federation of San Diego County at the federation's 37th Annual Gala Dinner, "A Tribute to Diversity - Reaching Across A Cultural Spectrum."
Nearly 600 Chicano Federation members, sponsors and associates gathered at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort to honor Thome, the Chicano Federation and KSWB Cares for Kids, a fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation. The annual event was filled with music, food, dancing and camaraderie.
Thome received the Valasquez Award for his positive impact on the Latino community over the last 40 years. As a veteran educator Thome has made significant contributions to the Hispanic community, working throughout his career to level the playing field for Latino students.
"Receiving the Community Service Award from the Chicano Federation of San Diego is an extreme honor for me," Thome said. "My work with the Latino community has always been rewarding. For the community to recognize my contributions makes all of my efforts more then worthwhile."
For the past 12 years Thome has devoted his career to the education system in San Diego County. Five years prior Thome worked as the superintendent of Cardiff School District and served two years as superintendent of the South Bay Union School District.
For many years Thome has successfully chaired the Superintendents Technology Advisory Committee, which ensures that all students in San Diego County have access to modern technology tools for a quality education.
Adriana Alcaraz, Channel 10 and Azteca America News Community Outreach Reporter, served as Mistress of Ceremonies of the evening. Father Henry Rodriguez from Chaplain Scripps Mercy Hospital also received the Community Service award. Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez, Founder of Los Alacranes, received the federation's Lifetime Achievement Award.
This year's gala focused on the Chicano Federation's senior service program, an important federation service that is in need of funds. The program provides low cost housing for seniors and families, a senior center, case management services, and child care services to local residents of all racial backgrounds.
The Chicano Federation of San Diego County is a multi-purpose community-based organization established in 1969 to serve the Latino community. The service is targeted towards low-income Latinos throughout the county, however services are also available to non-Latinos.