Identity Director Honored at White House (Video)
In honor of his work with Latino youth, Diego Uriburu, Executive Director of Identity, Inc., was one of 10 community leaders recognized by President Obama as a Champion of Change.
The recognition took place at the White House on Cesar Chavez Day. MyMCMedia’s Valerie Bonk visited Identity to see Uriburu and his staff in action.
He’s spent more than 16 years dedicated to helping Latino youth avoid negative influences and reach their potential through his Gaithersburg-based non-profit Identity.
Now, his efforts are receiving national attention, being named one of 10 community leaders honored by President Obama as a “Champion of Change.”
“The common thing amongst the panelists was the admiration for the people that we serve and the understanding that to serve them was a privilege and that it requires excellence and we all understand that,” Uriburu said. “People think that we are here to help them but it’s the other way around they help us be better people and they honor us by opening their hearts to us.”
The leaders were anonymously nominated for the annual award in honor of Civil Rights activist Cesar Chavez. But for this local leader, he says the award isn’t about him.
“I don’t think I’m deserving of the award,” Uriburu said. “I think that the staff that the youth and families I see them as stoic I see them as wonderful ambassadors of the values of this country they are the ones who don’t give up, this award was in honor of Cesar Chavez and I think they carry his values a lot better than I do.”
Identity provides programs and services to more than 1,400 young students in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties. Their services include after school programs, a wellness center and GED preparation as well as gang and teen pregnancy prevention and education.
For Tatiana Murillo, a former client at Identity, the program helped her find direction.
“It was very special because I was able to share a lot of things that I couldn’t share at home and I learned a lot about different topics that Latino families don’t talk about like sex and drugs and gang involvement,” said Murillo, a program assistant at Identity. “It kind of gave us a lot of input on these topics that are so important for the growth of youth.”
Tatiana now works at Identity and credits Diego with her success.
“He’s a true inspiration and he’s always working so hard for the community and he’s always trying to help and be a role model for all of us,” Murillo said.
For Candace Kattar, who co-founded Identity alongside Diego, she believes serving area youth is really the award.
“It wasn’t like we did this to get any kind of an award and certainly didn’t do this to receive any kind of recognition,” said Kattar, Director of Programs at Identity. “We did it because the recognition you get and the rewards you receive is from the clients that you’re able to serve because the work itself is so incredibly rewarding.”
Find more information about Identity through their website here.