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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 9:46 pm | Fair 55º


Cooperative Leader Raquel Ceja-Gonzalez Nominated for Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize

Raquel Ceja-Gonzalez, president of the Lompoc Cooperative Development Project, has been nominated for the 2014 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

Raquel Ceja-Gonzalez

Ceja-Gonzalez, manager of Del Norte Mobile Estates and mother of three, has nevertheless found time to head the volunteer group since its inception four years ago.

In February, LCDP’s first business, an eco-friendly cleaning firm named Green Broom Brigade, won the $5,000 first prize of the People & Planet Award sponsored by Green America website. The fledgling firm drew more votes than eighty other nominees nationwide.

In November, LCDP joined with other Santa Barbara County Cooperatives to stage the first Santa Barbara County Cooperative Festival, designed to educate Lompocans about cooperatives and other community services.

Best of all, as year’s end nears, Green Broom Brigade Cooperative is on pace to double its revenue from 2013, its inaugural year.

“What I saw growing up, my parents helping others, together with my faith, led me to do the same,” Ceja-Gonzalez says. “Seeing the need of more work opportunities for the underprivileged and underrepresented in our community is what keeps me motivated to help, and not to wait for Government to take action, but for us as a community to look for solutions and learn to ‘work together’ to achieve it.”

Ceja-Gonzalez was born in South Central Los Angeles in a low-income neighborhood, where her parents struggled on minimum wage jobs. She graduated from UCSB in 1995 and has worked in property management in Santa Barbara County for 16 years, at Del Norte Mobile Estates for 11. She has also been involved with her daughters’ youth soccer teams and La Purisima Catholic Church.

She joins seven other nominees, including assistant school superintendent Sid Haro, volunteer Jon Vanderhoof, community discussion convenor Lauren Pressman, musician Bill Carlsen, gardener Jan Martinez, writer Luciana Gallegos and chef Norma Anderson.

The Peace Prize will be awarded on Sunday, Jan. 25 at Valley of the Flowers Church.

— Allie Kay Spaulding represents Valley of the Flowers Church.


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