2016 MLK Award Winners
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ALUMNI)
Ashley T. Tripp
Ashley Tripp lives by the proverb, “A generous person will prosper; and by refreshing
others will in turn be refreshed.” She is a leader who has fully vested her time and
talents in shaping the prosperity of her native Glades communities of Palm Beach County.
In conjunction with successfully growing the family business, Tripp Electric Motors,
she also was instrumental in establishing the nonprofit organization, Lake Okeechobee
Regional Economic (LORE) Alliance of Palm Beach County, in response to the need for
a local economic entity. Under her tenacious leadership, she helped foster relationships
with multiple private partners, governmental entities and elected officials which
have strengthened collaboration efforts needed to develop and improve economic opportunities
in the Glades. The LORE Alliance and its highly esteemed partner, the Business Development
Board of Palm Beach County, have refreshed the Glades’ economic climate and its citizens
by successfully attracting new businesses to the region that have created over 400
Tripp leads with Christian values that continuously build bridges and grow opportunities. She is renowned for her hospitality and creative thinking and has effectively used these gifts in hosting numerous forums and familiarization tours that revealed the valuable people and environmental assets of the Glades to broader audiences. As a result, there has been a remarkable increase of cooperation with communal leaders in enhancing the quality of life in the Glades.
Incorporating the youth of her community in acts of service is a high priority for Tripp. She has coordinated many youth organizations in beautification events such as the Great American Clean-up and tree plantings at community parks and Lake Okeechobee’s Torry Island. She frequently shares her knowledge and life experiences with youth to motivate them into achieving greatness and serving others.
She currently serves as board member of LORE and the Palm Beach State College Foundation. She is an alternate member on the South Florida Water Management District Water Resource Advisory Council, and a trustee for South Florida PBS. She has been nominated for the Women’s Chamber of Commerce Giraffe Award and the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches Women in Leadership Award. She is a U.S. Army Reserve veteran and received her Associate in Arts degree from Palm Beach State.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (STUDENT)
In her spare time, Rebecca Stremel enjoys working with kids of all ages and supporting and encouraging them in life. Asides from volunteering in several outreach programs in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, aiding students from elementary to high school with hands-on science lab experiments, she has spent time helping the less fortunate. As part of her church group, Stremel volunteered for an event that gave homeless individuals a place to watch the Super Bowl and get free food, a haircut and clothes. That opportunity allowed her to engage in conversations and walk in someone else’s shoes for a day. Not only did Rebecca get to motivate and encourage the homeless, but she also was motivated and touched by their life struggles. The experience inspired her to look at the world with a different set of eyes. During Thanksgiving week, she also prepared meals through the Big Heart Brigade to distribute to families in need. Stremel has donated toys for Christmas to those who otherwise would not have gotten anything. She has done outreach and volunteer work because of her love to help those in need, and she says that it gives her a great sense of pleasure to give back to the community and impact people’s lives.
As a student in the Biotechnology program at PBSC, she has volunteered at several high schools in the county, working with students on several different experiments to perfect their lab skills. She has encouraged students to be a part of something greater in life to make an impact in the science community. She also has worked with elementary students, aiming to sculpt them to be their best, whether it is in the science field or simply in life. Through the outreach programs at PBSC, Stremel has provided students with knowledge and skills, enabling them to do something great in life. She says the greatest feeling is being there to teach them something new and seeing the look and smiles on their faces as they take on the task.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (INDIVIDUAL)
Judge Rand Hoch
Rand Hoch has worked tirelessly as a volunteer advocate, activist and organizer to secure equal rights for minorities and women.
Growing up in Massachusetts in the 1960s, he was perplexed that the young men sent to fight in Vietnam had been denied the right to vote. As a key organizer in the voting rights movement, Hoch, at the time a high school student, was one of only a handful of people invited to the State House by Governor Francis Sargent to witness the bill lowering the voting age signed into law.
Throughout his college and law school years, he remained immersed in political causes. When he moved to Palm Beach County in the 1980s, his law practice centered on representing workers and unions.
In 1988, Hoch founded the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Under his leadership, the Council has been successful in having civil rights laws enacted which secure protected status for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in private and public employment, housing and public accommodations.
In the mid-1990s, Hoch took a hiatus from his activism while he served as Florida’s first openly gay judge. During his judicial tenure, he served as president of Florida’s Conference of Judges of Compensation Claims and as vice president of the International Association of Lesbian and Gay Judges.
After he left the bench, he returned to advocacy. He was instrumental in having the Palm Beach County School District adopt a comprehensive policy protecting public school students from harassment and bullying. More recently, in an effort to address the problem of “shopping while Black,” Hoch convinced both the Palm Beach County Commission and the West Palm Beach City Commission to amend their civil rights laws, greatly expanding the definition of places of public accommodation to include not only retail stores, but also virtually every place of business in Palm Beach County.
Over the years, Hoch has been responsible for the enactment of more than 100 laws and policies extending equal rights and benefits to the LGBT Floridians.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (FACULTY/STAFF)
Shona Castillo has worked to address and raise awareness of community issues and to cultivate an appreciation for volunteerism among her students.
One of the first partnerships she made after becoming a volunteer program specialist at PBSC five years ago was with CROS Ministries. When the Lake Worth organization identified transporting food from the storage facility to the Riviera Beach pantry as one of its greatest challenges, Castillo sought and completed training to drive the College shuttles. Since then, she has taken many students to volunteer at the pantry and warehouse and became a trusted partner to the agency. CROS Ministries eventually provided her with a set of keys so she could go there after hours to stock shelves, sort food and deliver pallets to the pantries with student volunteers. Always one to lead by example, it was quite common to find her sweating, lifting and moving boxes of food alongside her students.
When she was asked to join the Lake Worth campus’ Human Trafficking Awareness Committee, she agreed to assist as needed but not lead the initiative. However, as she learned more about human trafficking occurring in her own community, she wanted to do more to help. She volunteered to post flyers, table events, coordinate speakers for workshops and presentations, and recruit student leaders to join the cause.
After learning that many of her student volunteers did not have transportation to and from volunteering events, Castillo partnered with the Athletics department to gain access to their vehicles to transport students. She quickly took on the additional role of “bus driver” to transport volunteers to service sites as well as overnight conferences. Castillo has driven her students to serve throughout Florida and as far as Biloxi, Miss. to participate in an alternative spring break with United Way.
She also serves on boards and committees in the county. She served in the volunteer position of logistics chair for the American Cancer Society Making Strides against Breast Cancer in 2011. She currently serves on the Diamond View Elementary School Advisory Committee, Team Work USA Scholarship Committee and as SunFest vice-chair of finance.
Castillo received the 2015 Advisor of the Year Award by United Way Worldwide and the Advocate Award for her program work for homeless students.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ORGANIZATION)
CROS Ministries’ mission is to serve the hungry in Palm Beach and Martin counties through community collaborations. In 1978, a group of United Methodist Churches located in Palm Beach County came together to form Christians Reaching Out to Society Inc. (CROS Ministries).
They realized that together they could make more of a difference assisting the community’s unmet needs. Over time, CROS Ministries became both ecumenical and interfaith, partnering with other denominations and faiths. The programs are designed to provide food to their clients so that they can use their limited resources on other basic needs, such as medicine and housing. They include: six community food pantries throughout Palm Beach County (Delray Beach, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Jupiter and Belle Glade) and one in Martin County (Indiantown); The Caring Kitchen, a hot meal and social services program (Delray Beach); summer camps (Boynton Beach and Lake Worth); an afterschool snack program (Delray Beach and West Palm Beach); a weekend food program for children (Delray Beach and Jupiter); and Gleaning, a food recovery program. All services are offered without regard to race, religion, national origin, marital status, gender, disability, sexual orientation or age.