BOISE, Idaho — Nampa's Irma Valdivia is known to many in the Treasure Valley as the owner of Jalapeno's. But she is also known for her service to the community.
Valdivia was honored for her service to the community by receiving the Ohtli Award for 2022.
"It is a huge honor," Valdivia said. "I am completely still in shock, humbled, excited - excited for my community, for my family, and just very happy to be here."
The award is the highest honor granted by the Mexican Government to individuals living outside of Mexico for their contributions to communities and for empowering Mexican nationals. Ohtli comes from the Nahuatl word for "road" or "path" and the award symbolizes opening pathways for others.
"When I was younger, I would go out to the high schools and you know, spend time with the students and teach them about wanting more education, and just being the best kids they could be," Valdivia said. "And now I work for different boards, I volunteer my time."
Valdivia sits on the Saint Alphonsus Community Board for Nampa, the Canyon County Boys & Girls Club, and the Nampa Chamber of Commerce board.
"For Saint Alphonsus, we work with helping the community stay safe and healthy, and educating ways to be able to do that," Valdivia said. "And then for the Boys & Girls Club board I help educate and help the kids become healthier and stronger with their families. And then with the Nampa Chamber Board, we help the businesses be the best businesses they can be. So I think all three boards are different. But all three boards have the same common factors - that we find ways to help them to become the best that they can be and so that we can make the strongest communities that we can."
The award recognized Valdivia for her contributions to the community, and as a trailblazer for members of the Hispanic community.
"I think what I'm most proud of is just being recognized as someone that people can confide in, being recognized as someone that people can trust, being recognized as a hard worker and an ethical person," Valdivia said. "And I think that, you know, I could be on 50 boards, but without what's really in my heart, without working with my feelings and soul for the people. The want and the ability to serve others is what I'm proudest of. And I think that our community recognizes that."
Head consul Ricardo Gerardo Higuera presented Valdivia with a medal, diploma, and pin. Valdivia's family, friends, and team members filled the Mexican Consulate in Boise for the ceremony.
Valdivia, who moved to Emmett from Mexico as a child, is proud to be an important part of the community she has called home, while also being able to honor her roots.
"My father brought us into Idaho straight from Mexico when I was just around eight years old," Valdivia said. "So Emmett was my first home and I still love it dearly. But Idaho has been my home for almost 40 years. So as much as I love my culture, today I'm here to represent the Ohtli Award, which means so much to me as a Mexican. But I'm also here as a proud American citizen, and a proud Idahoan - because Idaho is my home now. Mexico will continue to be where my culture and roots are, and I'm so blessed to be able to have both worlds."
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