Last week was our 24th Annual Foundation Celebration Luncheon, which included recognition of this year’s HERBIE award winners. I am so pleased to celebrate this year’s winners: Antonio Espinoza, of Art from the Inside; and Hiway Credit Union.
Each year your Charitable Foundation celebrates an individual and an organization who demonstrate qualities evident in leadership by awarding two HERBIEs. This award was named to honor Herb Brooks, a St. Paul native and legendary coach of the 1980 Olympic gold medal hockey team. The HERBIE is awarded based on these traits: humanitarianism; enterprising; resilient; bold; inspirational; ethical. The legacy of impressive leaders is long, and you can find previous winners here. I’d like to tell you a little more about this year’s honorees.
Antonio Espinoza: Antonio worked as a correctional officer at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater when his good friend and colleague was killed by an inmate. This inspired him to find a way to change things in the system to better serve inmates for healing and better outcomes when they are released to be part of the community. Instead of turning down a dark road, Antonio decided to be part of the solution. Antonio decided to take the route of art. Art from the Inside gives inmates the tools and opportunities to express themselves through various visual art forms. When the inmate’s art is shared with the public, the viewers have the opportunity to write notes to the artist on note cards that are eventually taken to the artist to read; it is a way to share their humanity with the wider community. It provides a way of communicating that is therapeutic and motivating to both the viewer and the artist. To see this kind of talent coming from incarcerated individuals is eye-opening and transforming.
And Hiway: headquartered on St. Paul’s East Side, Hiway Credit Union is genuinely committed to making a positive difference in its neighborhood and fostering strong, long-lasting relationships throughout the East Metro. The leaders and associates at Hiway live their values, sponsoring numerous free community events, organizing ways for employees to give back through projects like meal packaging, gardening or serving the community through 12 paid volunteer hours per year. Hiway also supports many financial education and youth-focused efforts, including the City of Saint Paul’s Right Track internship program, Junior Achievement, Best Prep, and Cookie Cart. Hiway also partnered with the Saint Paul School District to launch financial education programs to help guide and inform students on various financial topics. In the past three years, Hiway has given 56 classroom presentations and reached over 1000 youth. They also offer a teacher externship to help guide teachers on how to prepare their students for careers in the financial sector, and operate four student-run branches in St. Paul high schools. Hiway has been recognized for its numerous DEI initiatives and is a frequent honoree of the Star Tribune’s Top Workplace designation.
Why do I celebrate them here today? Because what they do matters. Civic engagement involves working to make a difference in the life of our community. Theodore Roosevelt has famously charged us to “be actors, and not merely critics of others.” That’s civic engagement. And there’s room for you too!
Don't forget to view more photos of our 24th Annual Foundation Celebration Luncheon! I'll be taking a break from the blog next week for the 4th of July holiday. Wishing you all a safe and enjoyable holiday week ahead!
See you in the trenches,