“Each year when the nomination period opens for the California Peace Award, dozens of individuals and their hard work is brought to light. It’s amazing to read about the dedication and commitment people have for their communities. I respect and value the work peace promoters invest to make our neighborhoods safer.” Assemblyman Luis Alejo
The local awards were given out during National Night Out, a national event that brings community resources together to promote safe neighborhoods. The San Benito County Sheriff’s Department coordinated the event, which included resource booths, free hot dogs and entertainment for families to enjoy.
Villalon was recognized for her work with the Youth Alliance neighborhood center at the Rancho Park Apartments where she coordinates an after school program for elementary school students and a drop zone program for middle school and high school students. According to a biography submitted with her nomination, “she provides her time and energy running after-school programs, preteen life skills classes, a cooking support group for mothers known as Las Comadres, and various family activities with the goal of preventing violence and creating a safe, welcoming connection to adult and youth mentors.” Villalon has worked in high-need neighborhoods for the past 10 years and has been a key organizer in neighborhood forums on gangs, youth safety and resident issues. She volunteers her time in the evenings and on weekends in order to raise valuable contributions to keep the Youth Alliance neighborhood center open.
“Even after our most recent drive by shooting, Ms. Dolores offered comfort and connected counseling resources to families traumatized and afraid. She is a mentor to many young people who affectionately call her Ms. D and its evidenced when they return from high school or college to greet her with a hug and a smile. She is the epitome of a peacemaker because she challenges hate with love.” Diane Ortiz, Executive Director