SEATTLE - Sunnyside native Mario Villaneuva was honored earlier today, Thursday, by Sen. Maria Cantwell at a Seattle luncheon.
Called the Golden Tennis Shoe awards, Villanueuva was one of three to receive the honor today at the Washington State Trade and Convention Center. Cantwell presents the awards to honor individuals whose dedication and compassion have improved their communities and the state of Washington.
Villanueva, who resides in Yakima, was born in migrant farmworker housing in Texas to parents who had spent most of their lives in the fields, according to a press statement issued by Cantwell.
After moving with his family to Sunnyside and spending some of his teen years as a farmworker himself, Villaneuva attended the University of Washington.
Cantwell noted that Villaneuva's experiences growing up made him aware of the needs of farmworker families and inspired him to dedicate his life to advocating for farmworkers in the Yakima Valley.
Since 2000, he has built an organization that works to house the rural poor and educates local communities and people who live in them.
In addition, Cantwell praised Villaneuva for his leadership in creating Raices Corp, a non-profit organization that Cantwell says encourages farmworkers to become their own advocates and gives them the tools to be successful and the confidence to have a voice.