Shorty and Elba Navarro, leaders and philanthropists of the Mahoning Valley for nearly a half-century, will receive Youngstown State University’s 2014 Friends of the University Award at a dinner Friday at the Youngstown Country Club.
The annual Friend of the University Award recognizes the leadership and contributions to YSU and the community by a particular individual or individuals. The event enables YSU to acknowledge individuals who have made significant financial or personal commitments to YSU and the community.
The Navarros, who have been married for 49 years, are leaders and generous philanthropists. Although education has been the major focus of their community involvement, many local charitable organizations have benefited from their generosity.
Flor “Shorty” Navarro, the oldest of 11 children, came to the United States with his parents from Puerto Rico when he was 14. As a student at East High School at age 16, with his father as a co-signer, he purchased a gas station on Wilson Avenue. Today, he is a leader in the automobile business.
Elba graduated from South High School in Youngstown and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Spanish, reading and education from YSU. She is retired from Youngstown City Schools, having taught at both Roosevelt Elementary and Chaney High schools.
In 2001, the Navarros established at $100,000 scholarship fund to benefit Hispanic students attending YSU. They serve on the President’s Leadership Council at YSU. Shorty also gifted a new facility to the OCCHA (Organizacion Civic y Cultural Hispana Americana) in the same year. As a veteran of the Marine Corps, Navarro also contributed $100,000 toward the construction of the new Veterans Resource Center at YSU.
The Navarros are involved in OCCHA and are members of Santa Rosa de Lima Church in Campbell. Shorty has served as a board member of Red Cross and Hospice of the Valley. He also volunteers his time in prison ministry at the federal penitentiary in Elkton.