By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Rev. Jose Dominguez was awarded a whopping $75 scholarship when he graduated from Woodburn High School in 1978. But, it wasn’t the amount of money that had the most resounding impact.

“It was the thought that somebody cared about my education. It also helped me believe that I could do it and it made me want to give back to the community,” said Dominguez at a recent Keizer City Council meeting.

Now the lead pastor of Keizer’s La Luz De Valle, Dominguez and a group of local Latino leaders is hoping to do the same thing for some soon-to-be McNary High School graduates.

“We would like to be able to present 10 to 20 ex-migrant or bilingual graduates with $100 scholarships,” Dominguez said.

The group presenting the scholarships is known as Latinos in Action Committee and its members are seeking to “manifest Latino representation in the community of Keizer on all levels of education and civic affairs.”

Dominguez, speaking as representative for the group, talked with members of the city council during its past two meetings as the group sought a waiver of rental fees and costs for a planned reception at the Keizer Civic Center. The council approved the request at its meeting Monday, March 5.

Dominguez said the members of Latinos in Action, which include City Councilor Roland Herrera, have been meeting informally for the past three years brainstorming ways to connect the Latino community with faith organizations, businesses and, especially, education.

“Most of us are ex-migrants who had to overcome huge challenges to get an education and succeed in our professions,” Dominguez said.

The scholarships are intended to further the mission of the group. Current McNary High School students can find out more about the scholarship opportunities at McNary’s College and Career Center. Donations to the scholarship fund can be dropped off at La Luz De Valle church, 606 Dearborn Avenue N.E. Donations can be made to “LAC,” which is operating under the non-profit designation of the church for the time being.

The first Latino Recognition Scholarship Reception is slated for Thursday, May 10, at the Keizer Civic Center.

“It’s an opportunity to celebrate them overcoming challenges and socioeconomic barriers to graduation,” Dominguez said.