Surrounded by the preschoolers she helps, Citlalli Ibanez de Obregon (in center, to the right of the hand-held sign) received the Pay It Forward Stevens County award from members of the Committee. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

Mexican native Citlalli Ibanez de Obregon is this month’s recipient of the Pay It Forward Stevens County award. Nominator Windy Roberts, a Spanish teaching specialist for the University of Minnesota Morris, wrote about Citlalli that she was one of the first participants of the U’s ESL program, and has continued to work closely with the U’s Spanish Club. Roberts wrote that “she goes out of her way to bring others into community activities” and is also a member of local non-profit “Lazos,” which has integration as a goal for a healthier community. Her boss at Morris Area Community Education, Tony Reimers, noted that “when we ask for volunteers to help out on a shift for a Community Impact Night, she signs up for BOTH shifts.”

Citlalli was presented with the award in the cafeteria of the Morris Area Elementary School by the Pay It Forward committee, when the preschoolers were eating. She told KMRS that she was left speechless by the honor.

“It surprised me,” said Citlalli. “And I will keep doing what I’ve been doing: helping people. That makes me feel good. And I like to help people. Because I know what it feels to be new in the town. And I have the good experience with someone help me, and I want to do the same for the rest of the people.”

Morris Area Arts Boosters President Marshall Hoffman (and KMRS News Director), who volunteers with Ibanez de Obregon to bring arts enrichment opportunities to district students, wrote that she was “an important bridge between our Spanish-speaking residents and the broader community, as well as a reliable volunteer.”

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