Local Women Recognized for Service

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For nearly three decades, legislators across the state of California have been recognizing women who have made a difference in their district.

Last Friday, Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia recognized nine women from the 58th district, which spans through the cities of Artesia, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, Cerritos, Commerce, Downey, Norwalk and Pico Rivera.

Celebrated in the month of March as part of Women’s History Month, the tradition dates back to 1987 when the California Legislative Women’s Caucus presented the first Women of the Year awards. All state legislators now take part in highlighting the accomplishments of women from a variety of backgrounds, from teachers and pharmacist, to city employees and business owners.

“We should be celebrating” women all year, said Garcia during the event held at the Southern California Edison headquarters in Downey.

Nine women were recognized by Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia last week as part of her Women of the Year recognition.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Nine women were recognized by Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia last week as part of her Women of the Year recognition. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Among the nine honorees were three local women: Marilyn Thompson from Bell Gardens, Carmen Marquez of Commerce and Shushma Patel of Montebello.

Thompson is a teacher at Bell Gardens Intermediate, Garcia’s alma mater. She was recognized for her work in the classroom and coordinating efforts to organize leadership camps and trips to the state capital for her students.

Thomson said humbly she considers what she does a part of the job.

Marquez, a retired teacher with over 35 years working for the Montebello Unified School District, was recognized for her past work on various committees in the city of Commerce and with groups such as the California Association of Bilingual Educators.

“We don’t do everything alone, we are all connected,” said Marquez at the event. “I brought my village with me,” she added, before recognizing the people who have helped her feel confident about what she does.

Patel owns an independent community pharmacy and serves as the chairperson for the Indian Pharmacists Association of California Advisory, serves on the board of the Montebello Rotary Club and routinely provides free counseling to the community. After receiving the award, she told the audience she enjoys giving back.

Other honorees included: Veronica Bloomfield (a historian) of Artesia; Sandra Espinoza-Perry  (owner of a child care center) of Bellflower; Mae Lovgren (president of PTA) of Cerritos; Alison Elaine Kirby (English teacher) of Downey; Dr. Linda Lacy (president of Cerritos College) of Norwalk; and Lizet Olmos (city employee) of Pico Rivera.

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