Skip to main content

West Valley City Journal

Molina recognizes local heroes at awards ceremony

Oct 31, 2016 03:58PM ● By Huy Tran

The 2016 Molina Healthcare Community Champions (left to right) Gilberto Juan Rejón Magaña, winner; Sela Fakatoumafi, winner; Gary Bell, winner; Siuea (Pete) Kupu, winner; Dr. Jordan Schaeffer, winner; Lisa Riley Roche, winner; Rep. Paul Ray, winner; Dr. Brent Wallace on behalf of Dr. Charles Sorenson, special recognition. (Kristen Jacobsen/Kristen Jacobsen Photography)

By Huy Tran | [email protected]

West Valley, Utah - Seven community champions were honored by Molina Healthcare on Thursday, Oct. 6 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. The ninth annual awards program follows the vision of founder Dr. C. David Molina and his goal to provide services to those who need it the most.

“Molina Healthcare really values the partners that work with us to serve the needs of our members, so this is a way to give back to them. A lot of times these are unsung heroes, so we wanted to make sure that they are recognized for the great work they do,” said RyLee Curtis, the manager of community engagement.

Molina Healthcare of Utah has been providing government-funded care for low-income individuals since 1997.  It aims to bring high-quality and cost-effective health care to children, seniors, families and people with disabilities. Molina has 12 locally operated health plans across the nation and serves some 4.3 million members.

As part of the award, each winner received a $1,000 grant to give to a nonprofit organization of his or her choosing.

Gilberto Juan Rejón Magaña, a recipient and local soccer coach, has dedicated more than a decade of his life to help low-income families. He started the nonprofit organization Harland Community 4 Youth Families, which highlights the importance of leadership, community involvement and education.

“The vision and mission are what drive me to do the things I do. [Harland Community] is promoting health and education through sports, using soccer as a tool to keep the children in school,” Magaña said.

He states that connecting to his community is central to the work he does.  Magaña said many families he comes across are underserved and believes there is still much more work to be done.

Many of the community champions hold service close to their hearts and encourage people to actively serve their community in whatever way they can. For former veteran Gary Bell, this belief stands strong and is reflected in his work.

Bell is a retired Air Force sergeant who has helped develop the Community Nursing Services’ Honor Salute Program, which supports veterans receiving hospice care. It organizes a special honor ceremony with local military personnel, celebrating each veteran’s service and dedication to the country.

“For veterans to be recognized, particularly in the last part of their life, is incredibly important to me. It gives so much peace [to them],” said Bell. “Our Korean War and particularly in Vietnam did not have such a nice homecoming, and helping the public understand what they sacrificed is what’s gratifying to me.”

The evening of the ceremony welcomed the winners with a dinner and special performance from the UCCC itself. Friends and family gathered to praise the work of the seven community champions. Many were touched by the stories presented that evening with some even moved to tears.

Each winner invited a representative from their nonprofit organization of choice to come on stage and accept the $1,000 grant. These officials shared the goals of their organization and inspired many to take action in order to make a positive difference in the world.

For those wondering how they can participate in serving their community, the winners had a few remarks of advice.

“I think that if people want to make a difference, they need to find what is important to them. There are thousands of organizations out there,” said Bell. “Just be involved.”

Magaña, on the other hand, places his priority in working with the youth.

“Knowing that the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, I want to prepare them,” said Magaña. “Let us take care of our children now, so that they can take care of us tomorrow.”

To learn more about the services Molina Healthcare provides, visit