In the native Serrano language of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, yawa’ is a word and concept that calls for one to act on one’s beliefs. The term also applies to annual awards that the tribe presents to charities making a positive impact in California’s Inland Empire region and across the nation.
The Yawa’ Awards are given at the annual Forging Hope luncheon to nonprofits in four categories—economic development, health, education and special projects—and include a financial donation.
The 2012 Forging Hope luncheon, held March 27, was hosted by Gigi Garland of Fox Sports. Garland, known for her work with mentoring programs, praised San Manuel for “helping move the needle on building a better Inland Empire,” according to a release.
“Gigi’s assistance demonstrates that forging a better Inland Empire is something that benefits everyone in Southern California,” said San Manuel Chairman James Ramos. “By standing together and recognizing the hard work and tireless dedication of the Yawa’ Award recipients we are letting the community know we are on your side.”
The recipient charities honored with the Yawa’ Awards this year serve as models of excellence in the program areas of education, health, economic development and special projects. They include:
- American Indian Science & Engineering Society (Education), which aims to substantially increase the representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives in science, engineering and related technology disciplines (STEM);
- the American Diabetes Association (Health)
- Family Service Association of Redlands (Economic Development), which has assisted low-income and homeless families living in the East Valley for 114 years; and
- San Bernardino Symphony Association (Special Projects), which provides music education and outreach programs to 15,000 students annually.
In 2011, the recipients were the Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House; the National Indian Justice Center of Santa Rosa, California; the American Indian Graduate Center of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Santa Claus, Inc. of San Bernardino, California. That Forging Hope ceremony, held March 29, 2011, took on an international dimension, with funding going to disaster relief for Japan, which had suffered an earthquake and tsunami just weeks before. To the American Red Cross, Inland Empire Chapter went $100,000 , and $50,000 went to the International Medical Corps.
Since 2001, San Manuel has given some $50 million to charities. Other recent donations of note went to First Nations Experience (the first Native American and Indigenous 24-hour broadcast network), Cal State San Bernardino (a $3 million grant that made possible the Santos Manuel Student Union, the first building on any Cal State campus to be named for a Native American leader), and Haiti earthquake relief through the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.