(BRENTWOOD, NY) – Last week, Suffolk County Legislator Sam Gonzalez, in collaboration with PRONTO, hosted an event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Eight Hispanic-Americans were honored for their dedication, imprint on our community, and contributions to aiding the wellbeing of others.
“I am honored to celebrate the incredible contributions these outstanding Hispanic-American individuals have made to our community,” said Legislator Gonzalez. “This year’s distinguished group of honorees have truly devoted themselves to alleviating the struggles of others and have displayed exemplary leadership within the community.”
Alexandra Velez is the CEO & Founder of Flutterflies Corporation, an organization that strives to be the spark and connection where women embrace their inner strength and confidence to release the Goddess within. In an effort to give back to the community, Alexandra decided to start Wings of Empowerment, a non-profit which empowers families, youth, and the leaders of tomorrow. Alexandra is a recipient of the Community Advocate of the Year from Long Island Hispanic Chamber and 2019 Organization of the Year from Peruvian American Chamber of Commerce.
Elvin Fuentes is the Community Liaison for Moloney Funeral Home. Elvin is happy to be able to support different projects throughout the years that have helped people in El Salvador and the community here on Long Island. Elvin had the honor of helping organize and participate in various community events such as Community Health Fairs, Back Pack Distributions, COVID Candlelight Vigils, and Breast Cancer Screenings. Elvin looks forward to helping out the community and making it a better place for all its residents.
Hector Polo is the Supervisor of the Security Department of the Brentwood Union Free School District. In addition, Hector has been a volunteer firefighter at the Brentwood Fire Department since 2000 and is still on active duty. Using his abilities to give back to his community, Hector utilizes his certification in CPR/AED to train the Annual 8 hour class for Security Officers as an instructor.
Marc Soto is the Executive Director of PRONTO and has a vast history of leadership. During his 27 years at Verizon, Marc was proud to work in the Command Center during Superstorm Sandy Recovery and serve as lead facilitator of the Service Elite Employee Initiative. In addition, he led and drove extraordinary results for Verizon as national and local president of the Hispanic Support Organization, a national employee resource group including his most proud accomplishment: the HSO NY Scholarship fund. He is currently a passionate advocate and motivational speaker for organ and tissue donation in addition to diversity, inclusion, and education.
Officer Peter Rivera is a 26-year veteran of law enforcement. Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, he joined the New York City Police Department in 1995 and joined the Suffolk County Police Department in 2000. Police Officer Rivera has taken the lead in implementing exceptional community-based initiatives with local businesses, schools and clergy across Suffolk County. He founded the “Shop with a Cop” program, which presents students with $50 gift cards from Target during the holiday season as a way to help financially struggling families. In addition, he has participated and organized programs for Brentwood’s youth such as Community Night at Sky Zone and Movie Night. He has implemented programs and initiatives to foster positive interactions and involvement in local school activities that incorporate police participation in police-led community events.
Sergio Colon is the President of the Brentwood Citizen Center. He has lived in Central Islip for over 45 years, in which for 35 of those years he spent working for Northwest Airlines. In addition, he has owned a Bodega and a Bridal Shop. Sergio has always thrived for helping his community and those in need, and uses his position as President to continue his advocacy.
John Franco is a representative for Fidelis Care. From working at a chocolate factory to becoming a loan advisor, John has held many occupations. Nonetheless, it was not was until he was selected as an insurance representative for Fidelis Care in 2008, that the best of experiences in the personal and professional field began. Fidelis Care allowed him to see and feel the true needs of the community, especially of people who lack health insurance when immigrating to the United States. In 2016, he began to do community work representing Fidelis Care at community events. John also worked first line during the Pandemic, not only helping the community but also the first responders by providing food, beverages and logistics to hospitals and precincts of Nassau County Police.
Erik Matthews Weidig the owner of Erik Matthews Plumbing & Heating. Erik’s collaboration with The Jibaritos with Troops and The Puerto Rican Coalition includes assisting during Hurricane Maria, 3 Kings, and Earthquake relief efforts in Puerto Rico as well as being a big part of the Texas relief assistance. Independently, Erik holds his own Back to School Drive and Christmas Toy Drive where he personally hand delivers to the community and numerous organizations in need. His willingness to help and give back is always genuine and it shows by his diligence. He is a caring community leader, a loving partner, and father who always puts family and community first.
“Our Hispanic Heritage Month celebration provides us with an opportunity to personally thank and recognize these incredible, overlooked Hispanic-American heroes for setting an example, being trailblazers for other individuals in the community, and uniting us through the process,” said Legislator Gonzalez.