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Hispanic leaders recognized for community service

By ErinPradia
Sept. 28, 2011 at 4:28 a.m.

Frank Torres

ARTURO LARA RECOGNIZED

"I think education is important, but to achieve your dreams, there has to be self discipline," said Arturo Lara, 60, of Victoria.

Mike Rivera, who introduced Lara at the dinner said among other things, Lara is known for three talents: the life he brings to social gatherings through his singing, his service to the community through his beautiful penmanship and his perfectionism from his yard to spelling and grammar.

Lara worked for 20 years as a teacher, counselor, district counselor coordinator and assistant principle in the VISD.

He also worked as a middle school and high school principal in Bloomington, a consultant in Region III Education Service Center and a middle school principal at Travis Middle School in Port Lavaca.

Most recently, he was a program specialist for the Texas Education Agency before retiring from the employee retirement system.

Lara is a certified TESL instructor.

During his time working for the VISD, he was awarded several honors including administrator of the year and educator of the year.

Lara gives 100 percent of his effort when he pours into community service.

"If I'm not there to serve and do the job, don't put my name on the roster," Lara said.

ERNESTINE KIDDER SPOTLIGHTED

"While not everyone can serve on the board of different organizations, everyone can volunteer in a number of opportunities if they inform themselves about the opportunities around them. It is one of the most rewarding things you can do to give back to the community," said Ernestine (Tina) Kidder, 79, of Victoria.

Dennis Tardan, of Victoria, describes Kidder as a renaissance woman, accomplished in poetry and eloquent in speech and writing.

Kidder retired from teaching after 26 years in both primary and secondary education.

Kidder taught Spanish at Stroman high school for three years and English at Crane middle school and South West Texas State for one year each.

As the first Hispanic professor at Victoria College, Kidder taught both English and Spanish at Victoria College for 21 years.

During her time as an educator, Kidder regrets that she was not able to devote time to other community service. In her retirement, Kidder set and fulfilled three goals.

After retiring, Kidder became certified as an ESL instructor and taught at the adult literacy center in Victoria for five years. She has traveled to see the foliage in the New England states during the fall and she has pursued art.

Kidder has been involved in community service through the Victoria Art League where she worked in publicity for 15 years and remains an active member.

She and her husband continue to serve on the Victoria Historical Commission where they were appointed shortly after her retirement from education. This is her 25th year serving on the board of the University of Houston-Victoria De Leon Symposium and her fourth year on the Bach Festival committee.

SPONSORS:

Artero Memorial Chapels; Dr. Julius and Gloria Cano; Century 21 Guajardo Realty; Civil Corp. Engineers and Surveyors; Cole, Cole and Easley, P.C. Attorneys at Law; De Leon Club; Golden Gecko; Harman Distributing Company; La Original Tortilla Company; Alex Luna, Attorney at Law; MAJICA; The Majestics; Mumphord's Place barbecue; Maria Nunez, Attorney at Law; Pan American Golf Association; Revista de Victoria; Chris and Mary Ann Rivera; Siesta Restaurant; Tejanita Restaurant; T-Town Music; Ventura's Tamales; Vera Cruz Restaurant; Victoria Television Group; Villafranca and Villafranca Attorneys at law, Lori Zamora, Vice President of Prosperity Bank.

Michael Torres distinctly recalls an act of service from a car ride home with his father, Frank Torres.

Ten-year-old Michael was worn out after a long day at school followed by baseball practice, and he was confused when his father suddenly turned the car around.

"What are you doing, Dad?" he asked his father.

"I saw a man weed eating without eye protection," his father replied.

Frank Torres stopped and gave the stranger a pair of protective eye goggles he had in his glove compartment.

"You only have one set of eyes. You need to take care of them," Frank Torres had told the man.

This was not an isolated act of benevolence Michael Torres recalled.

"If he had something he could share, he would," said Michael Torres, now 42, "from a Bible to safety glasses."

Michael Torres asked his father to be his best man in his wedding.

"He made me and my siblings the people we are today," Michael Torres said.

Frank Torres said he owes his passion for community service to a vision passed down from his grandfather through his father.

His mother would tell him about his grandfather's service to the community, and his aunts showed him membership cards to the community service organization founded by his grandfather. Torres said his father was always giving a hand to everyone around him, and he wanted to teach his children to be the same way.

"It makes me feel at home when I extend a hand and help someone else," Torres said. "It just feels good."

Torres worked as a master mechanic at Dupont Chemical Plant for 29 years.

When Torres first relocated to Victoria from Corpus Christi in 1971, he responded to an ad he saw in the newspaper requesting an assistant boxing coach at the Boys and Girls Club.

With a history of boxing in high school, Torres brought those skills to the Boys and Girls Club as an assistant boxing coach. Later, Torres was asked to serve on the board of the Boys and Girl's club, where he served for 24 years. Torres has served as both the vice president and the president of the board.

He also helped develop sports teams near Red Wood Apartments.

Torres said he would like to encourage young people to get an education and attend church. He also advises young people to become adults before they become parents.

"In the long run, it's the best situation for everyone," Torres said.

In his experience working with youth, Torres said he has seen problems perpetuated through generations based on a few bad decisions early on.

Michael Torres said he is very proud to have his father among the three retired professionals honored at the Revista de Victoria dinner celebrating Hispanic Heritage month.

"He is always giving," said Michael Torres. "And he doesn't expect anything in return."

The dinner, held at the Golden Gecko, is the third local celebration of Hispanic heritage presented by Revista de Victoria.

"It is a monthlong celebration that centers around Dieciséis de Septiembre," said Emett Alvarez, part owner of Revista de Victoria. "One way we celebrate is by honoring influential people across the community. It is our attempt to say, 'Thank you' for their service."

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