Chaplain Humberto Chavez will be honored with the 2017 NYTHA “EquiStar Award” for his dedication to New York's backstretch workers. Chaplain Chavez will be honored during a ceremony at the annual NYTHA PAC Golf Tournament at Rockville Links in Rockville Centre Tuesday, Sept. 26. The EquiStar Award was created by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to recognize an individual or organization that, through compassion, hard work and generosity, enrich the New York Thoroughbred industry.
“At any hour, every day, the Chaplain is on call for the people of the backstretch,” NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. said. “No matter a person's station in life, or what faith they might follow, he is there to listen and to help. There is no one more deserving of this small token of our deep appreciation for all that he does.”
Originally from Mexico, Chaplain Chavez came to the U.S. when he was nine years old, and was raised on Long Island by a single mom who worked two jobs to provide for her son.
“That was tough, by all means,” the Chaplain admitted. “There was an extreme learning curve for both of us back then. We didn't speak English.”
His childhood parallels that of the sons and daughters of many of the workers he now ministers to.
“I see my life every year played out in the lives of these people,” said Chaplain Chavez. “I see the same struggles I had. The child goes to school, the child learns English before the parents and becomes the voice of the family, whether it is paying bills or during doctor's visits. You grow up very quickly.”
In addition to attending to the spiritual needs of the backstretch community, the Race Track Chaplaincy of America also administers the Backstretch Recreation Program, which is funded by the NYTHA. The Chaplaincy offers holiday dinners and parties, citizenship classes, back-to-school programs, to name just a few of their efforts to improve the quality of life for the backstretch.
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