On March 21, I was delighted to honor Fanny Hernández as the 2011 Woman of the Year for the 32 Assembly District during a special Assembly ceremony at the State Capitol. Hernández was accompanied by her two children and her pastor's wife, Nancy Garcia.
"I am very proud of Fanny and how she has lifted herself up out of trouble and created a healthy and successful new life for herself and her children. She is a role model and proof that even against tough odds and numerous vulnerabilities, you can change your life for the better," Grove concluded.
Ms. Fanny Hernández was chosen for this award for her dedication to her community and her work as a mentor with local organizations. It is from her past experiences that has led Ms. Hernández into public service. A mother at the age of 12, trouble with law enforcement, and other issues while growing up was leading her in the wrong direction. Garden Pathways, a local mentoring organization, became involved in her life thru the court system. This mentoring led her to resolve past issues, establish a solid foundation thru faith and work to restore her family. Hernández is now an assistant manager at Today Cleaners.
"Garden Pathways welcomed me in. I thought they'd only meet me halfway, like other services that were offered. But they stayed with me constantly, keeping me from falling behind. I could tell they believed in me which made me believe in myself," Hernández added. "My faith in God and my many, many mentors helped steer my life for the better."
After successfully achieving her goals, Hernández felt it necessary to give back to the community of people who have serious struggles in their lives. She volunteers her time as a mentor and motivational speaker with Garden Pathways. "I tell those I mentor - be around positive people, and positive people you will become."
Fanny Hernández added that her life experiences provide an immediate connection to those whom she is trying to serve, "They relate to me as someone who has stood in their shoes".
Assemblywoman Grove said, "Fanny Hernández is a great example of the Kern County attitude of trusting God, pulling yourself up from your boot straps and doing something with your life."
Held annually, the State Assembly 'Woman of the Year' was started in 1987 to help commemorate Women's History Month and has become an annual Capitol event to salute community service. Honorees are recognized at the legislative session during a special ceremony in the Assembly chambers.