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Chamber’s Top Honors Go to Hornbuckle, Coronado

One worked for 12 years as an elected official, pushing for programs that benefit the poor and underrepresented.

The other first took lessons from the streets as a drug addict and thief, then from the Bible as a pastor and outreach volunteer.

Former City Councilwoman Mary Hornbuckle and the Rev. Jose R. Coronado of La Puerta Abierta Christian Church will be honored March 7 as the Chamber of Commerce’s Man and Woman of the Year for their devotion to the needy, sick, addicted, battered, hungry and homeless.

“We’re each a product of the environment in which we grew up,” Hornbuckle said. “He and I have both tried to do what can to improve conditions for young people and the community at large.”

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During Hornbuckle’s 12 years on the council--from 1984 to 1996--she promoted social programs but not at the price of economic development. She earned respect from businesses as well as charitable organizations.

“Mary has spent the greater share of three decades quietly giving to the community and serving the community in her various different roles and has always been one to back away from the credit,” said Ed Fawcett, chamber director.

In 1976, Coronado was a 25-year-old junkie who stole to support a $125-a-day heroin habit. A religious experience while he was in a rehabilitation program ignited his desire to work with others.

With fresh conviction, he preached in the city’s tough Shalimar district about the evils of crime and the benefits of faith. He is considered a catalyst in turning around many young people.

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“He’s humble, he’s genuine, just neat,” Fawcett said. “You would have never guessed what he had to go through to see where he is now.”

Coronado began preaching 16 years ago at La Puerta Abierta, Spanish for “the open door.” He is the first Latino chosen Man of the Year in the contest’s 27 years.


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