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Hispanic Forum Award Nominees

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The Hispanic Forum is a group that prides themselves on recognizing those in the Hispanic community who've made a difference.

The candidates are selected from dozens of community-submitted nominees and represent outstanding leaders who have contributed to the growth and improvement of the Bryan/College Station area.

Helen Chavarria was born and raised in the Brazos Valley, living most of her life in Bryan. She is a nominee for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

"We may have spoken English but we didn't speak it fluently because we practice nothing but Spanish at home. The language barrier had a lot to do with it and as time progressed we began learning the English language a lot better and things began to change," says Chavarria.

Chavarria remembers when the schools were segregated, when the men used to work in the mess halls at Texas A&M and when her family used to migrate during the summers to work in the fields.

Chavarria's seen plenty of changes in her time, but she's always contributed to her community.

The mother of two began to get active in a variety of organizations. She was one of the early members of El Club Social, a women's civic group that helps raise money for non-profit organizations.

"It was time we join together and have an organization in town that said this group of Hispanics women are making a contribution to this community," says Chavarria.

Staying active in her church and community, Chavarria kept very busy. She decided to run for Bryan City Council in 1982 and was elected.

Chavarria was a part of a significant change in Bryan. Under her term, the city passed a $32 million bond that helped build the current municipal building and provide major renovations to parks and roads.

She was the first and only Hispanic woman to serve on the council.

"Once I got elected and on council I was well received. I was respected; they gave me a place on council and I was treated as an equal," says Chavarria.

Despite her many accolades, Helen Chavarria remains humble.

"Never for a minute in anything I've done did I say I'm doing to someway get recognition and on the contrary this community has so many people working that do a tremendous job," says Chavarria.

All the winners will be announced at the Hispanic Forum Awards Gala, Saturday July 23.