Silicon Valley, CA—Today, the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV) announced this year’s La Familia Award. The Guel family of Sunnyvale will be honored at the 29th Annual Hispanic Foundation Ball on Saturday, October 20 at the Fairmont Hotel San Jose.
The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley annually recognizes an inspirational family with La Familia Award. Their goal is to recognize Latino familias that are performing extraordinary community activities through their volunteerism and community engagement. They want to identify the committed “unsung heroes” that are making our community a better place.
“The Guel family has touched not only their home neighborhood in Sunnyvale, but all of Silicon Valley through their continued service, dedication, and commitment to the community,” said Ron Gonzales, President and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.
The Matriarch and Patriarch: Luis and Alicia Guel
The Guel family have called the Bay Area home since the early 1950’s. Luis and Alicia Guel were married in 1949; a year later Luis was deployed to the Korean war as a medic. Upon his discharge, Luis earned 5 bronze stars for his bravery in risking his life as a frontline medic as he cared for over 3,000 troops.
Upon completion of his military service, Luis and Alicia settled in the Bay Area where Luis joined the Veteran’s Administration (VA) in Palo Alto, CA. He worked there for 38 years in increasingly responsible positions in medical, psychiatric, and medical lab research services.
In 1963, Luis and Alicia moved their family from Menlo Park to their permanent home in Sunnyvale, CA. It was the 1960’s and Civil Rights was enacted by President Johnson; it was then that Alicia and Luis first became involved in grassroots Chicano Theater shows for El Teatro Campesino. This is also where they realized they wanted to be part of a broader community to help others embrace and acknowledge their Latino culture and heritage. Initially, they became volunteer instructors with the Los Lupenos de San Jose folklorico group. Patriarch Luis taught dances while Guel Matriarch, Alicia made the dresses and costumes, along with preparing the students for recitals. They later started their own successful dance troupe called Ballet Folklorico de Luis Guel.
“I remember my Mom and Dad dancing the Jarabe Tapatio: Dad dressed in a Charro suit, Mom dressed in a beautiful sequin skirt she sewed herself,” said their daughter Angel Moncallo. “They danced as entertainment for the veterans at the VA hospital in Palo Alto where they cooked food and displayed artwork for the veteran patients every 5 de Mayo or 16 of September. Dad reached out to other artists to donate time and display their art. Somehow he looped his kids into being fashion models to display all the different Mexican dresses Mom sewed.”
In their spare time, the Guel’s took time to support cultural arts by volunteering with Teatro Vision and Club Estrella – a nonprofit social club which promotes Mexican-American heritage sponsoring cultural events and fundraisers that go to scholarships.
Together, with their children, Luis and Alicia were also active members of the Guadalupe Society which puts on yearly fundraising activities and donates a portion of its proceeds to non-profit organizations. Their eldest son, Joe Guel, has been leading this effort for the last 30 years, having awarded over 200 scholarships thus far.
In retirement, Luis pursued his passion for investigation and research into the Aztec calendar. He dedicated 40 years on the ancient artifact and wrote a book, along with his son Juan, titled “Xiuhmolpilli, The 52-year Cycle.” This book came on the heels of years of Luis serving as a guest lecturer at various universities and community organizations all around the Bay Area.
In 2003, Alicia passed away, but not without leaving a legacy of community service to her eight children. Today their children, along with their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren keep the family legacy alive.
The Guel Legacy
The oldest son Joe Guel and his wife Gloria continue the family’s tradition of volunteering with Club Estrella and Teatro Vision. Joe served on the board of directors for Center for Education and Training (CET) in San Jose for several years. Their youngest son, Jose Luis Guel, is currently working on a documentary of his grandfather Luis’ story that will be released this year.
Luis and Alicia’s second son, Jesse Guel, is married to Michele and currently serves as Pastor for Jubilee Christian Center. Additionally, he volunteers his time running Celebrate Recovery – a program that helps people recover from addiction through faith. His passion for helping others has also led him to be a strong source of support through counseling, crisis intervention, and providing resources to local people experiencing homeless.
Juan Guel is married to Tina and works at Hope Services where he works with developmentally disabled seniors. He is well known among local nonprofit programs that serve Latino youth as being a strong role model, leading by example, and for serving as a mentor for local teachers and community leaders. His three children, Amelia, Juan, and Lydia are all also working and volunteering in community-centered organizations where they follow the family business of giving back.
Luis and Alicia’s daughter Rosa married Ruben Gonzalez and works in the tech industry at Genentech. However, keeping the family tradition alive, every year she and her family choose a different community organization from food pantries to soup kitchens to volunteer.
Daughter Angel Moncallo married to husband Abel, is a former softball coach and Girl Scout troop leader for many years. For decades, she has been a parent volunteer, and serves as a safe haven in her home for local youth and families. “My parents always opened their home to others in need. Their home was a safe haven for all those who needed it, sometimes for more than a year at a time,” she said. She carries their legacy through support for the next generation.
Also continuing with the family legacy, daughter Maria Guadalupe Harvey, a former nurse with the Veterans hospital for 10 years, continues to serve as a private provider and home health nurse throughout Santa Clara County.
Las Gemelas Guel (twins) Ana and Carmen Guel served the community: Ana as a nurse for adults with disabilities, and as a home caregiver for local elders both by trade and as a volunteer; and Carmen as a parent volunteer for 25 years, School Site Council member for 4 years, Project Cornerstone ABC Reader/Lead volunteer for 7 years, Paraeducator at Lakewood Tech Elementary, and as a dancer with folklorico dance groups. Said Carmen: “I danced also from the age of 5 for Ballet Folklorico de Luis Guel and proudly inherited from my parents a love of our familia, cultural art, cooking, music, and especially dancing.” She loves to share these gifts with her five children and others in the local elementary school programs where she works.
In addition to all that the Guel family does within their respective capacities and communities, continuing the legacy of La Familia Guel, the family has set up a scholarship and educational recognition program in the name of the Guel Matriarch Carmen C. Guel, Luis Guel’s mother. La Familia Guel set up a family committee, which raises funds through their annual family reunion to give out educational supplies and scholarships to students.
About the Hispanic Foundation Ball
The 29th Annual Hispanic Foundation Ball will be held at Fairmont San Jose on Saturday, October 20, 2018, and will be emceed by Jessica Aguirre and Gabriel Sotelo of NBC Bay Area. The first ball was held in 1990 to raise awareness about the issues affecting the Latino community, to promote volunteerism, celebrate philanthropic leaders, and to provide a vehicle to support nonprofit organizations serving the Hispanic community with cash grants.
About The Hispanic Foundation Silicon Valley
The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley is a public foundation which cultivates philanthropy and inspires Hispanic children and families to achieve personal greatness. Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley engages leadership and bridges resources to invest in a thriving Latino community. Resources are directed toward educational excellence, leadership development, and convening and engaging the Hispanic community to improve the quality of life for Latinos and the Silicon Valley region.