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New FLX award will honor health coalition member killed on Park Avenue in Rochester

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

A new award will be given at the 2023 Speak Life! Health Equity Conference to honor a dedicated health coalition member who was killed by a driver in December while walking his dog on Park Avenue.

Edgar Santa Cruz, a member of the Latino Health Coalition, will be memorialized with the Edgar Santa Cruz Outstanding Coalition Member Award. It is one of three Community Equity Champions awards to be presented at the annual conference planned by the African American and Latino Health coalitions, which are convened by Common Ground Health.

The conference, themed “¡Acción Ahora! / Action Now!,” will take place from 8:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 27 at the Strathallan Hotel and online. The event will focus on Latino health as a lens to look at health equity for all people of color in the Finger Lakes.


The deadline to nominate local community members for health equity awards has been extended until February 28, and nomination forms and registration will be available soon at www.commongroundhealth.org/speaklife2023.

Santa Cruz was a hands-on social worker, dedicated project manager, and compassionate neighbor who served Rochester and the Finger Lakes region. He was a key presence at Cameron Community Ministries in the Lyell-Otis neighborhood, where he served as a social worker for five years. At the time of his death, he was working for Foodlink to form a strategy to expand the impact of the Lexington Garden Urban Farm, which feeds residents of Rochester’s northwest neighborhood.

“Edgar Santa Cruz was a great person, community advocate and truly a warm, kindhearted person,” said Julio Jordan, co-chair of the Latino Health Coalition, in December. “He fought tirelessly for those in our community who needed it the most.”

The award will recognize the contributions of a member of either the Latino Health Coalition or African American Health Coalition who are similarly dedicated.

Coalition members will also present two other awards at the event. The Rev. Dr. Weldon Thomas Faith and Medicine Award honors Rev. Dr. Weldon G. Thomas, pastor of New Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Rochester from 2005 to 2019. The Dr. Constantino Fernandez Community Leadership and Advocacy Award honors Dr. Constantino “Tino” Fernandez, who was a clinical associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Access nomination forms at www.commongroundhealth.org/speaklife2023. The awards ceremony promises to be an uplifting and inspiring event, as it honors individuals who have shown extraordinary leadership and dedication to promoting health equity in the Finger Lakes region.