A longtime Latino activist, Morales’ memory kept alive through awards | AspenTimes.com

A longtime Latino activist, Morales’ memory kept alive through awards

Amy Meyerson
Special to The Aspen Times

The memory of popular Latino activist Jackie Morales, a former valley resident who died from breast cancer, will be honored when four community service awards are handed out at next month’s Latin American Festival.

The awards will be presented on Aug. 24 in Glenwood Springs to a Latino student, teacher, volunteer and a business person.

Morales, a community activist from Peru, worked in the Roaring Fork Valley for several years to improve and support the Latino community. She is remembered for her work with the Latino community, the National Breast Cancer Coalitions, and breast cancer within the Latino community.

She began her work as a missionary in the Amazon and the Andes Mountains in South America. Morales came to the United States in 1980, attended college in Florida and finally moved to Aspen in 1989. She opened her own business, became an active speaker in the area and worked with Latin American Services.

In 1993, she took over the reins at Asistencia para Latinos, a program founded by Lydia Munoz to provide the valley’s growing Hispanic community with information and education about health and welfare services available to them. The program was also designed to give Latinos and Anglos an opportunity to become acquainted and familiar with each other’s culture.

Asistencia para Latinos held a strong presence in the valley before shutting its doors late last year. The program helped many Latinos adjust to the cultural differences they encountered in the Roaring Fork Valley. Under the guidance of Morales, however, the program’s focus shifted toward community outreach.

Morales was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995 and continued to support the Latino community until she died Feb. 21, 1998. She was featured in a book about survivors of breast cancer, called “Portraits of Hope.”

“Portraits of Hope” tells the stories of women from the Roaring Fork Valley who have suffered from breast cancer. Morales used her own experiences with breast cancer as a means of educating others.

After she was diagnosed, she organized a local breast cancer support group and trained to be an advocate for the National Breast Cancer Coalition in Washington.

According to organizers, the Jackie Morales Distinguished Awards for Community Service aim to convey that her efforts to promote health and welfare for Latinos in the valley will never be forgotten.

Alpine Bank and La Mision are sponsoring the awards. La Mision is a nonprofit organization that publishes a monthly newspaper for the local Latino community.

“We’re involved with what Jackie did and appreciate what Jackie was doing,” said Jim Pitt, who is coordinating the program. “In the winter sometime, we recognized Jackie and all of the wonderful things she did and discovered that no one remembered who she was.

“A lot of people’s attention on Latino concerns was because of Jackie. We thought we should really do something so people remembered who she was.”

At the Latino Festival, the coordinators are also “planning to have a little booth which will be a pictorial look at her life and what she was about.”

The nomination deadline for the awards is Aug. 12. The nominations should be sent to La Mision, which will decide the award winners. For more information, call Pitt at 920-3065.

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