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20101022_CitizenAwards_thumbMISSION — Four people from Mission were awarded last week for their contributions to the community – together offering a total of almost 100 years of service.

The Progress Times presented the awards at the Mission Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet. Honoring hard work and dedication, the recipients are chosen by past recipients of each award, using nominations from the community. Anyone who lives or works in Mission is eligible for the award.

Sister Nicholas Vincelli was named Woman of the Year.

“She has an impressive and extensive resume of the true spirit of service and all that it embodies,” said Progress Times General Manager Dan Brunson. “Her focus has placed her serving on countless boards, committees and advisory boards for organizations that serve the public health of Texas children.”

Now retired, Vinelli is working in the Mission-Alton area with Operation Hope, a group that distributes clothes and toys to the needy, mostly unwed mothers. Previously, Vincelli served on a number of advisory health organizations like the Texas Perinatal Association and also served as director of nursing services for the Texas Department of Public Health, Region 11. “She is an unassuming woman, working for health care and the poor, expecting no reward,” Dan Brunson said. “Anything given to her, she turns around and gives to the needy.”

Mission’s City Manager Julio Cerda was named Man of the Year.

“‘If you call him, he returns your phone call,’ that’s what one person said in his nomination,” Dan Brunson said. “Some would say that any government employee who does that deserves an award.”

Cerda was honored for his dedication, working in the field to assess any problem in the city. His background in engineering was also praised during the summer’s heavy rainfall that left Mission and surrounding communities flooded.

“We are honored to recognize a man who has served Mission with dedication above and beyond the call of duty, a man whose attributes are becoming intrinsic threads in the tapestry of our community,” Dan Brunson said.

Mary Alice Martin, a daughter of Mission pioneers, was honored as the First Lady of Mission.

For over 50 years, Martin – the granddaughter of Mission’s founder John Conway – has participated in several community activities like the Mission Junior Service League.

An “Orange Blossom” in the first Texas Citrus Fiesta, Martin has assisted in building floats for the Citrus Parade of Oranges for years with St. Paul’s Catholic Church.

“She and her husband are lifetime members of Mission Historical Museum and have donated many items of historical value to the museum, and, subsequently, to the community to help our younger generations to always remember the legacy of Mission’s rich history,” said Progress Times Publisher and Editor Jim Brunson.

To this day, Martin speaks to organizations about the early days of Mission through her own memories, letters and stories she heard from her parents. Martin and her husband also donated land that was the site of her childhood home where the David Scott Martin Driving Range at Shary Golf Course now sits.

Former Mission Mayor Ricardo Perez was awarded Mr. Mission.

Perez is a former board member for Xochil Art Center in Mission and Amigos del Valle. He also chaired the Metropolitan Planning Committee of the Texas Department of Transportation and a number of city and regional economic development groups.

“During his terms as mayor of Mission, some of his biggest accomplishments included singing a memorandum of understanding with McAllen and Hidalgo to initiate the Anzalduas Bridge agreement,” said Jim Brunson.

Perez helped initiate Hunt Development investments for residential, commercial and industrial properties.

“It gives us pride in our community to know we have such wonderful people working hard everyday to make Mission a better place to life, raise our families and build life-long friendships,” Jim Brunson said of 2010 Citizens Award recipients.

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