FREEPORT — The sea of red among the crowd at the Brazoria County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Noche de Unidad Gala had dual meanings.

Not only was the bright color a representation of the Latino theme of unity and appreciation, it also was a nod to the keynote speaker of the night, Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages President John Claude Tissot, chamber President/CEO Gina Aguirre Adams said.

With most attendees dressed to impress and cascades of red roses as centerpiece arrangements, the 12th annual gala started with the swearing-in of chamber board and new Chairman Ezreal Garcia taking the gavel. Garcia is director of Community Relations for the Community Health Network.

“If you know me well enough, you know that I do not like following the status quo,” Garcia said. “And when I came back to serve on the chamber board, I did so with ideas of how we can move our chamber forward.”

As part of the initiative to be more innovative, Garcia announced the chamber will be sponsoring a small business incubator grant program that will provide funding to existing small businesses and startups.

Among the awards handed out were for Small Business of the Year award, which went to Nancy Villarreal of Events with Nancy. Villareal also chairs the chamber’s ambassador committee.

“The membership chose her … because she’s a hard worker and has been doing a lot with the chamber. The members see her all the time and all that she does,” Adams said.

Community Health Network won Nonprofit of the Year because many of its employees give their time as volunteers to the chamber and community, Adams said.

Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospitals in Pearland received the Corporate Member of the Year distinction. Hospital President Noel Cardenas and its representatives have wanted to focus more on Hispanic communities and have become more involved with the chamber, Adams said.

A first-time special Amigo Award went to the Alvin-Manvel Chamber of Commerce for its partnership work with the Hispanic Chamber, she said. With seven other chambers in the county, working together is important, Adams said.

“Cary Perrin has done an amazing job,” she said. “Basically he gives us his time because there’s a lot of things we are still learning. … He always makes himself available and I really wanted to recognize that chamber.”

Ambassador of the Year Mirium Guzman earned her award for the work she does in community and as a volunteers.

“She has helped us revamp our ambassador program. She’s been a jewel to our organization and to the committee,” Adams said.

Adams, who started the chamber from scratch, caught the attention of Tissot at a Mexican consulate meeting in Houston. Adams’ mission to support the Hispanic community aligns with that of his company, Tossit said.

“At Coca-Cola Southwest … diversity and inclusion is everything to us,” he said.

The one team, one dream mentality of the company is used to impact diversity internally and externally by providing tools and resources to their employees and that’s why they refer to their associates as heroes, he said.

He went on to say that a majority of the minority-owned businesses in Texas are Hispanic and how they support communities and businesses makes a difference.

“The way to be successful in the long run is to make sure the community in which you operate is successful,” Tissot said.

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