EL CENTRO — The MolinaCares Accord (MolinaCares), in collaboration with Molina Healthcare of California (Molina), celebrated four Imperial County residents for their commitment to serving disadvantaged populations and improving health equity. Through the annual Community Champions Awards Program, each honoree received a trophy and $5,000 grant to pay forward to the nonprofit organization of their choice. They were recognized at Bucklin Park in El Centro Wednesday, March 31.
“The four incredible honorees have displayed their dedication to improving the comprehensive health and well-being of their neighbors in Imperial County,” said Abbie Totten, plan president of Molina Healthcare of California. “Molina is pleased to celebrate these selfless and deserving individuals. We know the grants will further empower the missions of the community organizations selected.”
This year’s Imperial County Community Champions are:
Angelica Peña of El Centro: Peña began her service journey by volunteering with the Imperial County Office of Education’s after-school programs for at-risk children. In her current role as a social work counselor for the San Diego Regional Center, she is involved in countless efforts to better her community. Peña has cofounded multiple fundraising programs, which include fighting childhood cancer, delivering meals to individuals recovering from COVID-19, and coordinating COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts. In addition, she was involved in the No Child Left Behind and Preschool for All movements throughout the State of California for 22 years. Her grant will be donated to Dancing for a Dream Foundation, Inc.
Blanca E. Morales of Calexico: Morales immigrated from Mexicali when she was 6 years old and learned social responsibility at a young age. As an 18-year-old single mother, she established Southern California Physician Services, which provides specialized patient financial services to hospitals and medical practices. Morales has prioritized improving quality of life for people throughout Imperial County by helping provide comprehensive primary and specialty health care, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. In June 2017, she cofounded the Calexico Wellness Center, a nonprofit clinic with the mission of maintaining good health through education, fitness, and a lifelong commitment to wellness. Morales’ grant will be donated to Calexico Wellness Center.
Martha Cardenas-Singh of El Centro: Cardenas-Singh is a lifelong resident of Imperial County, where she has dedicated her career to improving the lives of disadvantaged populations. She was elected to the El Centro City Council in 2020, a role in which she focuses on systemic changes related to health and economic justice, youth recreation, and community engagement. As treasurer of Vo Neighborhood Medical Clinic, she raised $75,000 to help fund the Meals to Heal Program, which translated to over 14,000 meals in the last eight months. As president of MANA de Imperial Valley, Cardenas-Singh has volunteered more than 1,000 hours to help fund and develop career pathways for young women, raising thousands of dollars in scholarships. She will donate her grant to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Imperial County.
Sombra Chaney of Calexico: Every aspect of Chaney’s career is geared toward making a positive difference. As the community outreach coordinator at El Centro Regional Medical Center, she provides exceptional assistance to everyone she interacts with. When she is not working, Chaney is volunteering at the El Centro Community Center and caring for elders who need help at home. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she led the center’s efforts in organizing sanitary necessities, along with supporting the mental health and wellness of members. She has touched the lives of countless individuals with her skills, knowledge, and unwavering passion to serve others. Chaney’s grant will be donated to Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist.