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YSU to honor Navarros with 2014 Friend Award

Published: Mon, June 9, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Staff report


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.


1chaneygrad(16 comments)posted 2 years ago

What a well deserved honor for the Navarros'! Growing up, Shorty Navarro was a household name and I had the pleasure of learning Spanish with Mrs. Navarro at Chaney; she remains my all-time favorite teacher and her paella is superb! The work they've done in the community is commendable and I'm glad to see that they're being properly recognized. Congratulations to you both :)

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2SusanNieves(1 comment)posted 2 years ago

Congratulations to Elba and Shorty Navarro for their well deserved "YSU 2014 Friend of the University Award". Their philanthropy has made an indelible mark on this Valley, touching so many lives, not only through the University, but in the entire community. Surely the ripple effects of their decades of generosity has, and will continue to make a positive impact for generations to come.

As Director at OCCHA these past two years, I have had the privilege to work closely with Elba, and consider her a true friend. I have come to know first hand, how near and dear education is to her heart. In her speech last night, she shared her story of how she was discouraged from pursuing her dream of being a teacher, and encouraged to become a hair dresser instead, because she was "Hispanic". Believe it or not, this same type of thing goes on today. I hear it all the time by newcomers in the community. Hispanics are still being encouraged to seek out menial jobs, with few aspirations.

Luckily, OCCHA is here, for the past 42 years, to help those in need to get on their feet and find their way. Elba and Shorty, we couldn't do it without your support. THANK YOU for your continued commitment. There is still much work to be done, and many are the opportunities to encourage our youth to embrace their futures and follow their dreams. Elba said it best last night, "Don't ever let anybody tell you that you can't do something...YES YOU CAN!!!"

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