A new award given at the 2023 Speak Life! Health Equity Conference will honor a dedicated health coalition member killed by a driver in December while walking his dog on Park Avenue.
Edgar Santa Cruz, a member of the Latino Health Coalition, will be memorialized with the Edgar Santa Cruz Outstanding Coalition Member Award. It is one of three Community Equity Champions awards to be presented at the annual conference planned by the African American and Latino Health coalitions, which are convened by Common Ground Health.
The conference will take place from 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27 at the Strathallan Hotel, 550 East Avenue, Rochester, and online. Themed ¡Acción Ahora! / Action Now!, the conference will focus on Latino health as a lens to look at health equity for all people of color in the Finger Lakes.
The deadline to nominate local community members for health equity awards has been extended until Mar. 3. Access nomination forms and registration opening soon at www.commongroundhealth.org/speaklife2023.
Santa Cruz served Rochester and the Finger Lakes region as a hands-on social worker, dedicated project manager, and compassionate neighbor. Santa Cruz was a key presence at Cameron Community Ministries in the Lyell-Otis neighborhood, where he served as a social worker for five years. At the time of his death, he was working for Foodlink to form a strategy to expand the impact of the Lexington Garden Urban Farm, which feeds residents of Rochester’s northwest neighborhood.
“Edgar Santa Cruz was a great person, community advocate and truly a warm, kindhearted person,” said Julio Jordan, co-chair of the Latino Health Coalition, said in December. “He fought tirelessly for those in our community who needed it the most.”
“He will always be remembered fondly for the inspiration that he was to us,” said Rudy Rivera, co-chair of the Latino Health Coalition, said in December. “Let’s all strive to keep his legacy of kindness alive.”
His warmth and friendly nature, constant awareness of potential collaborations, and steadfast commitment to providing basic services such as food, clothing, and medical care, made Santa Cruz an exceptional coalition member and advocate for health equity. The award will recognize the contributions of a member of either the Latino Health Coalition or African American Health Coalition who are similarly dedicated.
Coalition members will also present two other awards at the event. The Rev. Dr. Weldon Thomas Faith and Medicine Award honors Rev. Dr. Weldon G. Thomas, pastor of New Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Rochester from 2005 to 2019. Rev. Thomas was a convener of the Rochester Faith Collaborative, a faith-based HIV/AIDS prevention health initiative, and a member of the Ecumenical Committee of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS in Rochester. The award is given to a credentialed health professional (an M.D., R.N., CNA, CHW, or other) who has improved the health of marginalized racial and ethnic groups in the 9-county Finger Lakes region served. The recipient is someone who actively works in the community to impact health, spirituality and faith.
The Dr. Constantino Fernandez Community Leadership and Advocacy Award honors Dr. Constantino "Tino" Fernandez, who was a clinical associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Fernandez practiced primary OB/GYN care with a special emphasis and interest in Latina women's health. Dr. Fernandez advocated and led efforts to address health disparities among Latinos in the Rochester area and in his native Nicaragua to achieve equity in health services and outcomes. The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated an exemplary level of leadership, advocacy, and community engagement to positively impact the health of marginalized racial and ethnic groups in the 9-county Finger Lakes region served by the Latino and African American Health Coalitions.
Access nomination forms at www.commongroundhealth.org/speaklife2023.
About the Latino Health Coalition
The Latino Health Coalition works to improve health equity for the Latino community in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region. The long-standing advisory group has addressed a variety of health concerns for Latinos, including youth risk behaviors, language barriers, economic stress and cultural competency. The coalition began as a task force in 1998 and was officially established in 2007. It has a proud history of providing community data on health outcomes for Latinos.
About the African American Health Coalition
The African American Health Coalition seeks to improve health equity for Black residents in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region. The long-standing advocacy and advisory group brings together community members, organizational leaders and healthcare workers of our region to coordinate efforts to improve health for Black people. The coalition began as a task force in 2002 and was officially established in 2007. It has a proud history of providing community data on health outcomes for African Americans.
About Common Ground Health
Founded in 1974, Common Ground is the health research and planning organization for the Rochester-Finger Lakes region. We bring together leaders from health care, education, business, government and other sectors to find common ground on health challenges. Learn more at commongroundhealth.org.