2016 Empowering Hearts Honorees
by Jul 1, 2016|
Courage is strength in the face of pain and grief, and this year’s 2016 Empowering Hearts Honorees possess enough courage to not only support themselves but inspire their families and empower their communities. Meet the 2016 honorees at the Empowering HeArts Gala on Saturday, November 5 at Savia Community Center.
If courage is strength in the face of pain and grief, local businesswoman and longtime community volunteer Martha Aguilera teaches by example on a daily basis. Martha first found her strength as a young girl, overcoming an abusive childhood, abandonment and homelessness only to be left to find her way as a single, teenage mother. A mother of three, she is the founder and owner of Koklita’s Cakes and More, and today, she pays her good fortune forward.
Raised from very modest beginnings, Monica Blanco grew up with little parental guidance, support or means. By age 15, she was pregnant with her first child, Mariah, who immediately became the inspiration for Monica’s strength, courage and accomplishments. Determined to achieve self-sufficiency, Monica founded Colour Couture Inc., a sunless tanning company.
Kamila Diaz’s wide open heart has always been her driving force. While working to become a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist, however, Kamila discovered a lump in her breast. At age 26, she was diagnosed with triple positive breast cancer and began the fight for her life before it had really started. Whether she attended class via Skype or hosted parent-teacher conferences in a wig, Kamila’s heart prevailed.
When Nicole Feast Williams was 11 years old, a family friend turned her seemingly perfect childhood upside down. Terrified to unload her secret, Nicole carried her sexual abuse alone, dropping to 78 pounds and emotionally withdrawing from everyone until she finally confided in her grandfather and later her parents. Handed an incredible amount of pain, today Nicole decides to choose change over hurt, and courage over fear.
Diagnosed with dyslexia and told she’d never succeed as a writer, Kim Flores kept her stories tucked away in her mind and heart for years. One night Kim went home and let the words pour out. Finally trusting her own voice and talents, Kim soon self-published her first book. Today, Kim has published four books, one that sits on Amazon’s Top 100 Downloads list.
Janelle Percy spent 11 years as a United States Air Force MC-130 Combat Shadow instructor and evaluator pilot. Her toughest challenge yet, however, came when her husband, Jeff – also an Air Force fighter pilot – was killed in a work-related crash last August. Today Janelle provides and cares for their two daughters while also looking after this community through her dedicated and varied volunteer efforts.