SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO : Children's Advocates Get Volunteer Award

The city's highest honor for volunteers has been awarded to a husband-wife team whose dedication to the town's children led them to help establish a much-needed volunteer crossing-guard program.

The City Council last week honored John and Martha Diaz with the John R. Williams Public Service Award, given annually to residents who epitomize the spirit of community service.

Their efforts include developing educational programs for Latino parents, increasing parental involvement by about 300% in a local Parent-Teacher Assn. and raising funds for youth activities.

"Our goal has been to help Hispanic people participate in the schools," John Diaz said. "We want the Anglo and Hispanic community to keep together, to participate equally."

He and his wife are co-presidents of the San Juan Elementary School PTA, members of the San Juan Community Task Force and initiators of the "Noche de Padres," an outreach program to address the educational needs of Latino families.

The Diazes, who have three children and own and operate an upholstery shop in San Juan Capistrano, are also instrumental in organizing the city's Cinco de Mayo celebration, collecting food and clothing for the poor, and setting up a catechism class at Mission San Juan Capistrano. They have lived in the city for 15 years.

The city received 22 letters in support of the couple's nomination for the award.

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