Joining Josie for the luncheon were former and current HUF Board Members.
L-R (Back) Christina Paradowski, Board Member; Willy Gomez, Board Chair; Nydia Menendez, Board Member Emeritus; Chuck Tatelbaum, Chair-Elect; (front) Josie Bacallao, CEO; Maria Elena Ferrer, Board Member Emeritus; Catalina Avalos, HUF Attorney (Tripp Scott) and former Board Member; Juan Carlos Arias, Former Board Member. Not pictured were Hyram Montero and Rae Chorowski both Board Member Emeritus.
On Friday, May 5, the Broward County Bar Association recognized Josie Bacallao, HUF’s President & CEO with the Liberty Bell Award. She was nominated by Judge Melanie May.
Liberty Bell Award – This nationally recognized award is bestowed on a non-attorney individual or community organization who has promoted a better understanding of the law, encouraged a greater respect for the law and the courts, who stimulates a sense of civic responsibility, and who contributes to good government within the community.
Below are comments made by Josie Bacallao when she accepted the award.
“It is deeply meaningful to me to be associated with the Liberty Bell which not only represented FREEDOM to a new nation — but it has also been a symbol to those fighting to end slavery and later, to gain civil rights.
It is a reminder that freedom is not easy. Freedom is not free.
And, that it is important to remind ourselves that America is a nation of values, founded on an idea: that all men and women are created equal.
Those are the values that make me proud to call myself an American and the reason the United States is known throughout the world as a beacon of freedom and opportunity.
My own personal history drew me to an organization that in my mind is also linked to another powerful American symbol – Our Gray Lady, Mother of Exiles – the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Our agency’s work is to welcome newcomers to our country and guide them on their often difficult, but always hopeful, life-long process of learning what it means to be an American.
We are their guides to their American dream.
But for many aspiring Americans, the road can be long and difficult and full of challenges – from language barriers to navigating our complex health care system.
For 35 years, HUF has empowered more than 400,000 children and families in South Florida with English language instruction, classes to become U.S. citizens, guidance on how to start businesses and become financially strong.
And today we serve individuals in four languages from 25 countries who reflect the full spectrum of diversity in South Florida.
When aspiring citizens have access to the tools needed to succeed, they make great contributions to our communities. They boost our tax base, open businesses, create jobs, and add to the cultural diversity that makes our country unique and makes us stronger.
That is the work that we do. It is deeply grounded in the best of American values and American history.
But I must tell you the incredible outcome of this award is to discover I have a full table of friends who are attorneys.
Let me introduce to you HUF’s past and current board members who are here today – two bankers joined them too just to mix things up.
Chuck Tatelbaum, Hyram Montero, Rae Chorowski, Juan Carlos Arias, Catalina Avalos, Nydia Menendez & Christina Paradowski. And our board chair Willy Gomez and Board Emeritus, Maria Elena Ferrer.
Thank you, my friends, for your heart and your service to HUF and our community.
In closing, I invite you for a tour of HUF. I promise you will leave inspired – if not a little buzzed from the espresso (Cuban coffee) we make.
Our agency works hard to make the American dream accessible – but keeping the dream alive is work that we must all do.
Thank you for this beautiful recognition.
I promise you that I will continue to work very, very hard to live up to the award.”