Hispanic Heritage Month is well underway and every year around this time the contributions of LatinX community members are recognized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Among the selected this year are two Coachella Valley essential workers, Cesar Millan and Manuela Ramirez now join the list of recipients of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Chair award.
Both were nominated by Congressman Raul Ruiz for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So that we can pause for a moment, elevate their stories and recognize the good in our community,” Ruiz said.
Millan is originally from Morelos, Mexico. He works as a nurse at Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage.
Ruiz says Millan risked his own life to save lives at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Despite taking every precaution, Cesar became infected with COVID-19,” Ruiz said.
The virus severely damaged his lungs, bringing him to the brink of death but he pulled through and it wasn’t long before he was back to work caring for patients.
“I shouldn’t be here alive, but I’m here, for whatever reason, and I’m still trying to find out. I just have no words, I received so much from them, and the only way to pay them back was to get back on my feet,” Millan said.
Ramirez is a woman who advocates for farmworker rights.
“Despite soaring positivity rates, Manuela went out into fields at great risk to her to help save lives,” Ruiz said.
Ramirez helped hand out facemasks and taught farmers how to stay safe from COVID-19. She also advocated for testing and vaccines to be taken to the east Coachella farm fields.
Ramirez told Telemundo 15’s Marco Revuelta that she wishes her parents, who’ve passed away, were here to witness this moment.
“I know my dad would be proud of me,” Ramirez said.
She adds that she owes her will to help others to her father.
Ruiz said their stories of inspiration now pass to become part of the history of the United States.
“And future generation can look back and be proud of the great work they did for their fellow countrymen during the country’s worst moment,” Ruiz said.