Gervais community members among 2019 DSA Award recipients
The recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Service Alma Awards were announced at the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce's weekly Greeters meeting, hosted at Immanuel Lutheran Church on Friday.
This year's winners featured a variety of people from the surrounding community, including a pair of winners who serve in the Gervais — Wesley Leiva and Sandra Segura.
Leiva was named Junior First Citizen, while Segura was selected as this year's Outstanding Educator, joining Senior First Citizen Gina Audritsh and Outstanding Youth Belen Cortes as the 2019 honorees.
Wesley Leiva — Junior First Citizen
A lifelong Gervais resident, Leiva was selected for his long history of service to the city of Gervais, residents of northern Marion County and work with children and education.
Leiva currently serves on the Woodburn Fire District Board, Gervais City Council and the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. He is also a member of Woodburn Rotary, and is a big supporter of area youth with his employment history at the Boys and Girls Club of Woodburn and at Nuevo Amanacer.
Leiva boasts former experience as a member of the Gervais School Board, the Gervais School District Budget Committee, and the board of directors for the Latino Educational and Recreational Network.
Per his nomination form, "(Leiva's) community involvement areas spread wide, giving him a true grasp on the foundation of the Woodburn Area and how to make it better as a whole...His history in the community and his heart for making the world a better place are prime examples of why he has been selected as this year's Junior First Citizen."
Gina Audritsh — Senior First Citizen
Honored in 2014 along with her husband James for their work on Relay for Life, Hubbard resident Audritsh was selected for the Senior First Citizen award in her first year of eligibility.
In addition to her work with Relay for Life, Audritsh is an active member of the Woodburn Kiwanis Club, Woodburn Eagles, North Willamette Association of Realtors and participates in several annual events such as the Love Santa Food and Toy Drive.
Audritsh recently retired from her career working with the Metcom 911 dispatch center in Woodburn.
In her nomination form, Audritsh was lauded for her ability to build and maintain relationships, which have made her successful in the workforce and community.
"Her distinguished service has been a tremendous pillar for the community, which has been privileged to have her."
Sandra Segura — Outstanding Educator
The executive secretary in the Gervais School District, Segura was born in Mexico and came to the United States as a middle school student.
Speaking little to no English, she persevered, learned and thrived, taking a career in law enforcement and several other positions before finding her true calling working in education.
According to her nomination form, her bilingual background and compassionate dedication to service has made her an incredibly valuable member of the Gervais community, where she is often the first line of communication for parents, students and staff members in the school district.
"Sandra Segura is one of the most compassionate, supportive and caring educational employees at Gervais School District....Sandra is the definition of personal and professional integrity, showing respect for each and every person she interacts with. Her incredible patience, kindness and compassion are the traits we all strive to provide."
Belen Cortes — Outstanding Youth
A junior at Woodburn High School's Academy of International Studies, Cortes boasts a resume of accomplishments that is as expansive as it is impressive. She is a member of National Honor Society, Leadership, and the Key Club President. She plans and facilitates the AIS Key Club's biweekly meetings and helps plan and create service project and fundraiser opportunities. She helped spearhead a large community garden project that AIS participated in last summer, which provided over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce for the AWARE Food Bank.
Cortes is ranked in the top five in her class and is involved in a variety of service opportunities at the high school, including Battle of the Books, Love Santa, Food Bank hours, Key Club, Kiwanis Club, blood drives, voter registration drives, Stem Festival and National Honor Society.
According to her nomination form, "Belen is a standout among her peers in her willingness to go wherever help is needed...This comes as no surprise as her hard work, terrific attitude and reliability are evident by all those who know her."
This year the DSA Award event has a new addition to its title, incorporating the Spanish word "alma" to reflect a connection to the heart or soul of the community's Latino roots.
The 68th annual DSA Awards Banquet will be held on March 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Metropolis Event Venue in downtown Woodburn. Tickets are available for $35 at Woodburnchamber.org/dsaa.