Maurice honored for good works by board
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org February 2, 2014 8:34PM
Ken Maurice, Aurora Youth and Senior Services coordinator, received the 2014 Pete Perez Award at the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board's breakfast Friday at Gaslite Manor. | Courtesy of City of Aurora
Updated: March 4, 2014 6:16AM
AURORA — Ken Maurice was awarded the 2014 Pete Perez Award at the city’s Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board’s community breakfast on Friday at Gaslite Manor.
The honor made Maurice, Aurora’s Youth and Senior Services coordinator, one of the few non-Hispanics to receive the award. Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board President Hector Ochoa said that Maurice has done so much to help the Hispanic community in Aurora.
Board Vice Chair Adrienne Holloway said those who nominated Maurice said he wants “the best for all.”
“He really influenced our young community to stay away from gangs, drugs and bad behavior overall,” Holloway said. “He truly represents the spirit of the Pete Perez Award quite well.”
Maurice said receiving the award was a humbling experience. Maurice had the opportunity to work with Pete Perez while Maurice was director of Aurora Township Youth Services.
“The thing that I most remember about Pete was that he was an advocate for young people,” Maurice said. “It’s extra special when you have worked with the person that it’s named for.”
Maurice joined the city in 2005 as Development Coordinator of the Youth Services Division. Prior to that, he was a guidance counselor at East Aurora High School and Waldo Middle School.
In the community, Maurice has served on multiple boards in the past 20 years, including: the East Aurora School Board, as vice president of Citizens for Neighborhood Improvement, president and treasurer of the Westbury Farm HOA, and the Kane County State’s Attorney Second Chance Program.
Named in honor of the legacy of former Aurora Police Officer Pete Perez, the award recognizes outstanding leadership in and impact on Aurora’s Hispanic community. Perez’s sons, Kane County Sheriff Matt Perez, Aurora Fire Marshal Matt Perez and Marsha Perez Green, a Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board member, were in the audience Friday.
At the end of his speech, Maurice encouraged today’s youth to serve their community whether by profession or by volunteering.
“Go out into the community and be the next Pete Perezes,” Maurice said. “Better yet, go out and establish your own legacy of service. That’s what Pete would want.”
Past Perez Award recipients include State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), the Rev. David Engbarth and Gozalo Arroyo, executive director of Family Focus.
At the breakfast Friday, Mayor Tom Weisner said in a diverse community like Aurora, the Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board’s work is important. The city was recently recognized as one of the 10 safest mid-sized cities in America, he said.
Most of the cities that topped that list were “large, monolithic, homogenous suburban communities” that lack diversity, Weisner said.
“We have proven in Aurora that we can be diverse and can be a community made up of many ethnicities, many cultures, many levels of income and still be one of the 10 safest (mid-sized) cities in America,” Weisner said. “We can succeed the way we are as long as we work at it together.”
West Aurora Superintendent Jim Rydland accepted the Delia Nila Basile Award on behalf of the school district. Ochoa said that West Aurora goes above and beyond to promote Hispanic events and to encourage their staff to donate time and talent to the organization’s mission.
Rydland said successful communities are ones where members work together to create opportunities, educational and otherwise, for all citizens.
“Our community is one that wants everyone to be successful,” he said.
Sister Kathleen Ryan, founder of Aurora’s Dominican Literacy Center, served as the keynote speaker Friday.
More than a dozen high school seniors and current college students also received scholarships at the breakfast and school-aged children were honored with awards.
Scholarship recipients include: Mireya Rios, West Aurora High School; Jazmine Velazquez, West Aurora High School; Cynthia Gonzalez, Aurora University; Erica Padilla, Waubonsee Community College; Christian Reyes, East Aurora High School; Melissa Garcia, East Aurora High School; Sarah Cole, Aurora Central High School; Nancy Perez, East Aurora High School; Evelyn Rocha, West Aurora High School; Christopher Rodriguez, West Aurora High School; Mario A. Velazquez, Waubonsee Community College; Erik Torres, West Aurora High School; Miguel Hernandez, Aurora University; and Isaac Soriano, East Aurora High School.
Youth Leadership and Service Awards, 9th-11th grade, winners are: Annette Soto, East Aurora High School; Juan Sanchez, East Aurora High School; Javier Sandoval, East Aurora High School.
Essay Contest, 6th-8th grade, winners are: Adriana Gomez, Herget Middle School; Timothy Gehler, Fred Rodgers Magnet Academy; Christopher Hernandez, Simmons Middle School.
Poster Contest, 3rd-5th grade, winners are: Ty Rogers, Hill Elementary School; Leslie Escamilla, Johnson Elementary School; Christian Madera, Fred Rodgers Magnet Academy.
Coloring Contest, Kindergarten-2nd grade, winners are: Ian Gomez, Gates Elementary School; Javier Junez, Bardwell Elementary School; Analysa Orozco, Gates Elementary School.