Molina Healthcare of California recognized three Imperial County residents for their compassion and altruism through Molina’s Community Champions Awards program. This year’s Imperial County Community Champions are Margaret Sauza of Calexico, Heather White of El Centro, and Maria Nava-Froelich of Calipatria.
Due to the pandemic, Molina presented each awardee with a trophy and flowers in a socially distanced fashion in lieu of a ceremonial event. The Champions each received a $5,000 grant to pay forward to the organization of their choice, according to a Molina press release.
“We are inspired by these remarkable women who embody the spirit of volunteerism and selflessness through their service to their neighbors throughout Imperial County,” stated John Kotal, plan president of Molina Healthcare of California. “Molina is grateful for the opportunity to continue our Community Champions Awards program – despite the challenges of this unprecedented year – to highlight local heroes who have shown a dedication to improving the health, well-being, safety, and success of their communities.”
Sauza serves others through her work at the SureHelpLine Center, an organization that provides intervention and prevention services for sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other crises. She uses her own funding to help shelter or feed people, whether they are experiencing homelessness, in danger of assault or violence, or just simply need support at the time.
Nothing is off the table for Sauza, who has also assisted others with funeral expenses, transportation, and much more. She volunteers with the Brown Bag Coalition, cooking and serving meals on her days off. She also sits on the board of a local housing authority to advocate for safe and clean low-income housing and works with additional organizations that support sexual assault victims. Sauza is donating her grant back to SureHelpLine Center, according to the press release.
In 2016, Heather White launched Cody’s Closet, an organization named after her son, to provide clothing and household items to El Centro residents. Thanks to her determination, planning, and operational work, the nonprofit’s presence has significantly expanded throughout Imperial Valley. Prior to founding Cody’s Closet, White would challenge herself to complete daily acts of kindness, such as donating supplies to schools and delivering cards to nursing homes.
Additionally, White is an animal lover and has volunteered with Dee’s Rescue for more than 20 years, providing compassion to dogs and other animals without a home. Her grant will benefit Cody’s Closet, the release stated.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Nava-Froelich was instrumental in leading distributions of food, clothing, diapers, and other necessities. She works tirelessly to connect people with resources and helps families complete applications for the Employment Development Department, and for benefits such as CalFresh and EBC.
Nava-Froelich is devoted to making a difference at the city, county, and state levels. She is currently a Calipatria City Council member and previously served as mayor, and also holds positions on various committees and groups, including the Imperial Valley Resource Management Agency and Southern California Association of Governments. Nava-Froelich’s grant will be donated to Calipatria Unified School District, according to the release.