Obama Honors Filipina as 'Champion of Change'

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A White House ceremony will honor a Filipino American woman as a “Champion of Change” for starting a crusade to help the youth when her own daughter got involved in drugs.

Nurse-turned-activist Corazon Basa Cortes Tomalinas of San Jose, Calif., is one of 12 community leaders who are being recognized for their work to prevent youth violence in their communities as part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. She is originally from Agoo, La Union province in the Philippines.

In the late 1980s, Tomalinas was among many parents who struggled to raise children in a San Jose neighborhood plagued by drugs and gangs.

“Through this tremendously difficult experience, [Tomalinas] found her life’s calling,” Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said at the forum’s national summit in Washington, D.C., on April 2. “Guided by her faith, she has spent three decades helping to protect young people.”

Jarrett said Tomalinas, who has been called the “heartbeat” behind the mayor’s gang prevention task force in San Jose, “helped forge new partnerships between residents, clergy, advocates and public officials” in preventing youth violence.