By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

ATLANTIC CITY — A sea of white hit the coast of Atlantic City on Friday, June 14, but it wasn’t from the waves pounding the beaches but those supporting awardees and scholarship winners at the Hispanic Association of Atlantic County’s fundraising gala at the Showboat Resort’s Garden Pier.  

The sold-out Nuestro Pueblo (Our Community) Awards celebrated local leaders and influencers in conjunction with the theme of Una Noche en Blanco.  

Under clear skies and a light breeze on the Jersey Shore, a crowd of about 300 enjoyed live music, food and the festive environment during the evening celebration. President Bert Lopez credited Vice President Jessica Grullon of Stockton University with putting on the wildly successful event.


HAAC said the Nuestro Pueblo Awards celebration promotes community involvement, advancement, and growth of the Hispanic cultural heritage by recognizing individuals and/or organizations who are making a difference in the community.  

“We are honoring some pretty great people here,” Lopez told Front Runner New Jersey at the event. “We are thrilled to have such a wonderful turnout. We exceeded our expectations here.”  

HAAC set a goal of 200 attendees for Nuestro Pueblo, but blew past that number to year to a sold-out crowd of 300.  

“I still had people calling me [on Friday] asking for tickets,” Grullon said. “We’ve already raised $25,000 in two months for scholarships. I’ve been working nonstop.” HAAC was able to secure major sponsorships from Aetna, Atlantic City Electric and AtlantiCare health system for the award ceremony.  

Awardees included:

Arts and Entertainment – Mr. Arlin Padilla, Arlin’s Dance Spot

Community Service – Mr. Cristian Moreno, El Pueblo Unido

Education – Mrs. Cinthya Llerena, Atlantic City Board of Education

Entrepreneurship – Mrs. Ediana Martinez, Essential Senior Benefits

Future Leader – Yuliana Tapia, senior at Stockton University & Aston Ragsdale, 2020 graduate of Atlantic City Institute of Technology

HAAC Board Member of the Year – Luis Chevere

Healthcare – Mrs. Vanessa Negron, AETNA and Ms. Christine Guzman, AtlantiCare

Nuestro “Amigo/a” – Ms. Nicole Williams, Sovereign Avenue School Organizational

“Amigo/a” – South Jersey Cultural Alliance

Public Service – NJ Latino American Troopers Society

STEM – Dr. Adaliz Rivera, Mount Sinai

“We have people who are making an impact in our community,” Lopez said. “These are unsung heroes we want to acknowledge. These are not elected officials and not movie stars but contributors to our community.”  

Some of the dignitaries in attendance include Atlantic County Commission Andrew Parker III, Atlantic City council president Aaron “Sporty” Randolph, and Atlantic City council vice president Kaleem Shabazz.

HAAC will return to the Showboat Resort on Sept. 23-24 as the new venue of its Atlantic City Latino Festival. The festival moves from Bader Field to off Atlantic City’s famed Boardwalk and the new Island Waterpark.

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