By Shawna Mount
In honor and acknowledgement of outstanding women in San Antonio, Texas A&M-San Antonio President Maria Hernandez Ferrier will speak at La Prensa Foundation’s Diamond Gala April 12.
The 11 local women are being recognized for their leadership and “vigorous educational advocacy” according to a story in La Prensa Feb. 5.
“I’m glad we were able to get Maria to speak at the function,” foundation director Patricia Perez-Saenz said. “She has a lot of pep and heart.”
Perez-Saenz said the University has “a great president.”
The Gala will be held at the Omni Hotel, 9821 Colonnade Blvd. Individual tickets are $150 and corporate group tickets range from $1,500 to $15,000 for a table of 10. There will also be a silent auction for more than 100 items. All proceeds benefit the foundation.
This year marks the foundation’s 16th anniversary.
La Prensa Publisher Tino Duran Sr. said, “We’ve made up to $2 million over the past 16 years. We usually make up to $2 thousand in each gala.”
The foundation, recently located with La Prensa’s family owned newspaper to the Finesilver Building, 816 Cameron St, is a nonprofit organization that Duran says “gives students the opportunity for an education that they may not receive elsewhere.”
Many students have to work multiple jobs in order to pay for school and if they have a family it makes it even harder, foundation coordinator Tino Duran Jr said.
This ends up affecting students’ grades to the point of flunking out or just barely holding on to the minimum grade point average. The foundation is the one organization that helps make a difference in their lives, Perez-Saenz said.
“We want to give them a chance so they still have that opportunity to go to college,” Duran Jr. said.
The foundation was founded in 1995 by co-publisher Amelia J. Duran after her newspaper received many requests from students and parents asking for financial assistance for school.
Duran was able to start the foundation with $1,000 “thanks to good a friend,” Perez-Saenz said. The foundation now stands with a $2.2 million budget because of the widespread of supporters and sponsors.
Perez-Saenz said they were able to award 10 scholarships between Jan. 1 and Jan. 25. She said that the number of scholarships is dependent upon how much money is held by the foundation.
Amelia J. Duran’s personal experience of working two, sometimes three, jobs and supporting her two children while her husband was working and attending college inspired her to give back to the community.
Her husband worked two jobs as well, she said. With all the hours spent at work, there was not much time for studying, which continuously threatened his GPA.
Amelia J. Duran wants to give students a better chance to achieve their dreams. Her son agrees.
“Some kids grow up in bad environments and don’t know they can go to college,” Duran Jr. said.
There are many stories of students’ success, Saenz said. “Every student has a story.”
Saenz said one student in particular who graduated from St. Mary’s University wrote the foundation a thank you letter because the scholarship funds she received allowed her to travel abroad.
Most scholarships require a certain GPA, but the foundation does not judge a student by their grades.
Instead, they look at a student’s situation and decide based on need.
“We just want to give to as many students as we can, but money doesn’t fall from the sky,” Perez-Saenz said.
She added that the foundation funds students and donates to various universities and schools. A&M-San Antonio has an endowment arrangement with the foundation.
On Jan. 26 Duran Sr. presented the University a check in the amount of $5,000.
According to Duran Jr., the foundation gives in the vicinity of $5,000 to schools such as St. Mary’s University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Our Lady of the Lake University.
“There’s not a school we’ve missed,” Duran Sr. said.
The foundation’s motto, “building tomorrow’s future,” raises scholarship and endowment fund by hosting two annual galas — the Salute to Outstanding Women in Action and Celebrate Hispanic Heritage during National Heritage Month.
In both events, community leaders are awarded and honored for their endeavors. Each gala also holds a silent auction for over 100 items.
The 11 women honored include: Chrissy Anthony, Carrie Baker Wells, Delia Bara, Lana Duke, Gina Galaviz, Linda Hardberger, D’Ann Harper, Norma Martinez Lozano, Maria Cristina Rodriguez, Whitney Solcher and Gloria Tostado.
According to Duran Sr., galas can usually raise $15,000 from each auction.
“No one gives as much as we do,” Perez-Saenz said.