We are proud to recognize two GRACE volunteers as recipients of the Shining Star, awarded by the Arts Council of Northeast Tarrant County. An event was held at the Colleyville Center this week honoring ArtsNET’s Shining Stars, an award presented to outstanding volunteers and members of our community who are committed to making a difference. The pandemic postponed last year’s event but luckily everyone was able to gather and recognize not only last year’s recipients but this year’s as well.

Founded in 1978, ArtsNET provides artistic, cultural, and educational opportunities to improve the quality of life in our communities. This group put together an amazing event and we are proud to announce winners from both 2020 and 2021!

The winner of the 2020 Shining Star is longtime volunteer Russ Lugo. Russ started volunteering in 2015 and teaches conversational English to anyone who wants to learn – he also focuses his teachings on health, wellness, and empowerment. Russ said he was excited by the opportunity to partner with GRACE.

“Everything GRACE does is relevant to the community and they’re so approachable, I wanted to find a way to be a part of it,” Russ said. “It was such an answer to prayers. GRACE is amazing with what they do and I thought if I can partner with them we can be more effective and help more in our community.”

Working full time as the Donor Relations Director for Gateway Church providing different church services, Russ loves building a stronger community thru language.

“I was completely shocked by the award…the idea that GRACE thought of highlighting our work was such an honor. I could not be more grateful.”

The recipient of the 2021 Shining Star award is Antonio Miranda who works with our Community Clinic educating patients on diabetes maintenance and prevention. A dietician with the Texas Health Diabetes Center and doctoral student at Texas Women’s University, Antonio has done an outstanding job with our clients whether it’s in person or online via Zoom.

Unfortunately, Antonio was unable to attend the ceremony but his powerful acceptance speech serves as a glimpse into his generous heart and powerful motivation for service.

“In our clients and patients, I see my parents. I see hard-working Mexican culture – a dedicated, family-oriented lifestyle. However, our greatest strength as Mexican warriors and Hispanic heroes is also our greatest weakness. We gain the American dream at the expense of our mental and physical health. My dream is to continue to serve the patients of GRACE, our heroes, helping them to work hard but also prioritize their health. One does not have to give up on health to achieve the American dream. Not on our watch at GRACE.”

We as a community and organization are lucky to have people like Russ and Antonio working so hard to make an impact…they truly are Shining Stars.