Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the San Francisco Latino Heritage Month Celebration and Awards Ceremony at San Francisco City Hall honoring Chuck Ayala, the founder of Centro Latino de San Francisco, with the Dolores Huerta Lifetime Achievement Award. Below are the Leader's remarks:
"Thank you very much Mr. Mayor, for your kind introduction, your nice words of recognition of how we have worked together, and for calling us all together -- a real cause for celebration, Latino Heritage Month. We're very proud of your leadership and recognize the excellence in the community to take leading roles in the administration of this -- under your leadership -- the best city in America.
"This is our District Attorney, to you, our Consul General, to you, to all the leadership -- and Joaquin, thank you to you for making this event such a special one. It takes place in the context of a year when President Barack Obama recognized the leadership of the community by giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be given by the country, to Dolores Huerta for her leadership. It was just last week that many of us gathered in the Mission to have an at-home celebration of that recognition of Dolores Huerta. At that time many of us exchanged compliments as to who could say the best things about the community, but the best thing I could say about the community is that your commitment -- to family values, to education, to your work ethic, to your sense of community, to faith, and to family. For all that, and the courage of many of your ancestors and immediate family to come to America and to make the future better for your families; with that optimism and that hope and that determination, [it makes] America more American.
"So, I thank you Latino community, for your patriotism. I was very proud of the House of Representatives, we passed the DREAM Act to recognize -- you know -- [Senate Republicans] blocked it, but I'm proud our President, by executive order, [signed] to stay deportations so the Dreamers, who've been with us and come forward; reach their aspirations in our country. Again, making America more American. And I'm so proud that yesterday that the President went to Keene, California to dedicate the César Chávez National Monument. It was actually a big turnout, so many people they had to turn some away it was such a source of great pride, aren't we proud of that?
"So many other things, that have been mentioned by the Mayor, were only possible because of the leadership in our Congress of our Hispanic Caucus and I am pleased to say that in this election year we have an opportunity, and I think we will, send ten more [Latino] Members to Congress to be part of the [Congressional Hispanic] Caucus. Four of them will be from California, so we're very, very proud that California leads the way. As the Mayor talked about the contribution, it's easy to understand that our beauty, I would say the beauty is in the mix. The strength of our city, our state, and our country is in our diversity. And the recognition of that by the leadership and by appointment, by election, by executive order by whatever it takes to fully engage the talents, aspirations, and determination of this community is a great thing for America and we're all very, very proud of that.
"I'm particularly proud today because I have been asked to give a special award out by congratulating all of the honorees, so thank you for what you do for our community and our country. I have the honor to join the Mayor in honoring of Chuck Ayala. Of course, we're going to talk Lifetime Achievement Award. As Chuck makes his way up here, I would say it's not an official honor Mr. Mayor, but a personal pleasure, because Chuck and his wife and niece were some of my earliest supporters 25 years ago when I first ran for Congress. They even held one of the first parties for me, and we've been working together ever since so my daughter and her daughter have continued this multi-generational relationship. Chuck's work as Founder of the Centro Latino de San Francisco has done nothing less than get people a sense of worth and dignity -- that has grown from providing meals for seniors to being a full service community center for 2,300 low-income homes, seniors, and families. When the White House was holding a Conference on Aging, I urged them to listen to people who were grassroots activists in the community, and one of the people I asked and listened to, my Appointee to the conference, Chuck Ayala, for he was an advocate for seniors nationwide.
"In the tradition of the great Dolores Huerta, the living legend, a great icon in our country, Chuck makes his voice heard. From City Hall, Mayor you know that, to the White House, to the neighborhoods, to the whole country. And when the former President was threatening to privatize Social Security, Chuck made his voice heard and helped prevent turning Social Security into a privatized gamble for our seniors. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude, so thank you!
"I mentioned that Dolores Huerta received that Presidential Medal of Freedom. That day that she received it, President Obama recounted one of her mantras, Dolores is always saying: "Don't wait to be invited! Step in there!' Does that sound like her? So, whenever Chuck Ayala has seen a challenge, he has always stepped right in, he does not wait to be invited. So it is appropriate that we honor him with the Dolores Huerta Lifetime Achievement Award. When you look at his resume, you wonder how such a young man could have fit in all of those accomplishments, but it works well for Chuck, so we're very proud. So we, the Mayor and I, join together to say thank you again to Chuck Ayala for decades, decades of national and community service work, congratulating him, and indeed, all of today's awardees, for their excellence in media and health and art, business, education, innovation and as Mira said earlier: "expanding security and every other aspect of a safe and vibrant community.' And those being honored for the arts, for all of you, thank you for what you do."