Monday, July 15, 2024

Island women Ana Najarro and LT. Commander Alma Pinelo receive prestigious recognitions


Two island women were recognized for their contributions to society at the annual Outstanding Women’s Awards. Islander Ana Najarro, affectionately known as ‘Anita,’ was awarded by the National Women’s Commission for her outstanding community service to San Pedro Town. While Lieutenant Commander in the Belize Coast Guard, Alma Pinelo, is presently training in the Republic of China (Taiwan), was recognized as the 2022 Outstanding Woman of the Year.

The award ceremony took place on March 31st at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel in Belize City. Anita, nominated by the Women’s Department, was recognized for her passionate dedication over the last 25 years. She is recognized for advocating for women’s rights in the fight against domestic violence. Anita is the Chair of the San Pedro Gender-Based Violence Committee, becoming a stronger voice for those feeling vulnerable and with no options. Some of her contributions include spearheading fundraisers for persons in need of funds to pay for medical treatments. Najarro, who was once a member of the local chapter of the Red Cross, has participated in community activities for the Lions and Leos International organizations. Currently, Najarro holds the position of president of the Central American Group in San Pedro. This group is in charge of creating programs, such as celebrating all Central American countries’ national festivities on the island. Najarro said this activity encourages a unified front as one people. She said the recognition humbles her. According to her, it is not about getting awards; it is about working to make a difference in society.

Lieutenant Commander Alma Pinelo

Pinelo has made San Pedro proud as the first island woman to hold the high-ranking position in the Belize Coast Guard of Lieutenant Commander. The Embassy of the United States (U.S.) of America in Belize saw her fitting for this year’s Outstanding Woman of the Year award and nominated her. Pinelo said she did not expect such an award but is honored for the recognition. “I do things because of the passion I have in my field of work, but it is really an honor,” said Pinelo. She thanks the U.S. Embassy for the nomination and encourages other women in Belize to follow their dreams in the armed forces.

Lieutenant Pinelo is a born and raised San Pedrana, daughter of Chef Jennie Staines and granddaughter of Elvia Staines, founders and owners of San Pedro’s world-famous Elvi’s Kitchen restaurant. Pinelo’s journey in the military started in 2008. That year she tried the Officer Cadet Selection program in the Belize Defence Force. She passed the selection program and was accepted into the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 2009, and returned to Belize in 2013 as an officer. Over the years, she has climbed the ranks and has attended more training in the U.S. and Mexico.

The San Pedro Sun congratulates Najarro and Pinelo for their outstanding work for the country and Belizean society.

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