Joined by many of our close community partners, allies, and supporters, we honored Leaders in the Face of Drought at our Water Justice Celebration in Visalia on October 27, 2015. CWC's Co-Directors Susana De Anda and Laurel Firestone, as well as Gov. Brown's Legislative Secretary Martha Guzman-Acevez, acknowledged the courage and hard work of residents, organizations, and elected officials who are striving to ensure their communities have access to water during California's devastating drought. While we know the drought will continue to impact communities throughout the Central Valley, we dedicated the night to celebrating success stories and honoring the individuals who are making a difference in their communities. Guests at the event were treated to delicious Mexican food and music from Mariachi Juvenil Nueva Generación. The evening's speakers included Michael Prado, Paul Boyer, David Mendez, and Greg Gomez. Read on for their biographies.
Michael Prado, Sultana Community Services District President, AGUA Coalition Member
Michael Prado is a long-time AGUA Coalition member and the President of the Sultana Water Board. Michael has lived in Sultanasince 1981, just 3 years after the community's water system was established. He has served as a director on the local water board since 1993, and as president for the last two years. Michael is a retiree, a football fan, and a lover of music [with a mobile DJ service for family and community events.] He values his family, as a father of four with three grandchildren, and is deeply committed to the wellbeing of his community. Michael's work in Sultana demonstrates that with enough willpower, we can work toward regional water solutions that have the economies of scale to actually secure safe water for communities.
Paul Boyer, Self-Help Enterprises Program Director of Community Development and David Mendez, Self-Help Enterprises Drought Coordinator
Paul Boyer is the Community Development Program Director at Self-Help Enterprises. Since 1977, he has been assisting disadvantaged rural San Joaquin Valley communities in developing funding for water and sewer projects. David Mendez is the Drought Coordinator at Self-Help Enterprises, and in this role, he has been managing water tank installations for residents whose wells have gone dry, as well as other interim solutions to water outages. Paul, David, and many others at Self-Help Enterprises have played an integral role in developing drought relief programs throughout the South San Joaquin Valley.
Greg Gomez, Mayor of Farmersville
Gregorio "Greg" Gomez was first elected to the Farmersville City Council in 2012 and was quickly selected as the Mayor pro-tem. He was selected by the council as Mayor in 2014. Mayor Gomez previously served 3 years on the Farmersville Planning Commission. Mayor Gomez was was born and raised in Visalia and attended the University of California Berkeley. He is a 20-year employee of County of Tulare and the proud parent of four daughters.The community of Farmersville recognized the importance of helping their drought-impacted neighbors in Cameron Creek Colony, whose wells began running dry during the drought. Even with demands on their own water due to the dropping water table during the drought, the community of Farmersville took a stand for water justice by consolidating water systems with the neighboring community of Cameron Creek.
Special thanks to our event sponsors!
Community Water Champions: California Water Service, The California Endowment; Community Water Leaders: Byers Accountancy, Sierra Health Foundation; Community Water Stars: AGUA Coalition, Cultiva La Salud, Central Valley Community Foundation, Kidd Accounting, Self-Help Enterprises, Rural Community Assistance Corporation; Community Water Supporters: Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment, MVP Insurance, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; Community Water Friends: Californians for Pesticide Reform, Fresno League of Women Voters.