Halls of Fame
Stephen Ray Delgadillo
As soon as he could talk, Steve Delgadillo started asking questions – the kinds of questions no one can answer – the kinds of questions that challenge doctrine, established beliefs and confound the clergy.
Q: “God made everything, right?”
Q: “And God knows everything; God knows whether I am going to heaven or hell, right?”
Q: “Well, why did God make me if I am going to hell?”
It is easy to imagine the progression from curiosity to inquiry that lured Steve ever onward in his search for answers to all sorts of questions and solutions to all kinds of problems, like all forms of discrimination and social injustice.
At Santa Ana College he found a learning community that was receptive and encouraging, with instructors like Fran Williams, who had “a lot of integrity. I felt her spirit and it made me want to go the extra mile to complete my education.”
“I was married, raising a family and living in Anaheim Hills while I also was working as a Project Manager in the Yorba Linda Water District, learning water science and water engineering. And I was trying to become the first member of my family to get a college degree. It wasn't easy, and it took me longer than I would have liked.
“But at Santa Ana College, my eyes also were opened to a variety of social issues and opportunities to help others, like the One-Stop Immigration & Educational Center in Los Angeles.”
Steve graduated in 1984 with a degree in Liberal Arts and entered Chapman University to study Film and Television and the Arts, but he found himself in a difficult position when an issue related to his passion for social justice resulted in irreconcilable differences with the institution.
In 1989 he became Regional Director for the Orange County office of the One-Stop Immigration & Educational Center, where he administered Phase II of the Amnesty Legalization Program in response to IRCA '86 with Civics, History, and Government, as well as conducted the Citizenship Test approved by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, now known as ICE.
His unwavering commitment to identifying and correcting issues related to discrimination and injustice has led him to work with a variety of consortiums including The Latino Caucus (1991-1995) , the YMCA Community Counseling Services of Irvine (1995-96) , The Cambodian Family in Santa Ana (1994-95), Ettie Lee Homes for Youth in Santa Ana (1996-98) and Project Independence of Costa Mesa (1998-99), as well as the Community Partnerships and Services Department of Garden Grove to serve populations ranging from youth to seniors and developmentally disabled adults of all ages.
Beneficiaries of his efforts to promote social justice, equality and responsibility include Santa Ana College where, in 1999, he initiated and coordinated “Solo Para Hombres” Conferences I, II, and III.
A skilled story teller, in his 13-minute film “In Celebration of Dra Enriguetta Ramos,” Steve honors the former Chicana activist, educator, trustee and Board President who retired and returned to San Benito, Texas, in 2003.
Other films include “From Our Elders” – two 15-minute segments on local voices and their stories, cuentos on culture, economics, politics and spirituality (2000); Day Laborers/ Los Jornaleros – La Recompensa” - a six-minute black and white short showing that persistence pays off (2001); “Los Curanderos – The Folk Healers,” a 30-minute documentary on immigrant populations in affluent Orange County who continue to seek traditional folk healers – the values and the risks (2002) and “The Connie Jones Story” – a seven-minute documentary of the local community leader who received the Jane Thomas Grassroots National Volunteer Award for Community Action Agencies.
A musician, singer and songwriter, he has copyrights on words and music of a number of songs and his hobbies include “playing the acoustic guitar to my children, at family gatherings, elementary schools, and cafes with a little poetry reading and storytelling.”
With four daughters and several grandchildren (including the first quintuplets born in Orange County), family is still first and foremost, however, and Steve chose to bring lessons learned in parenting to the community by promoting age-appropriate sex education in the Orange County Schools.
Today, he is focused on developing relationships to build infrastructure and capacity to help meet the demand for professional talent in quality health care delivery – specifically, promoting and facilitating cross-cultural health care service delivery to underserved populations.
Steve cites one example: “The highest suicide rate occurs among military veterans – approximately 18 per day – and data indicate that a large percentage are Latinos.”
“We know that psychological counseling is most effective when the provider and recipient have shared cultural backgrounds, yet there is only one psychologist with a culturally compatible background in the Veteran Integration Services Network 22, which serves six Veteran Administration Hospitals and 29 community clinics in Southern California and Southern Nevada. And we do not know the cultural competency of this provider. Clearly, we need to better facilitate hiring more culturally compatible psychologists to serve this population.”
This is just another example of Steve's approach to activism: identify problems and help implement solutions, following Gandhi's admonition, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”