CanDo announces Spirit Award winner

Eliseo Rivas has the CanDo spirit - and everybody knows it. In the words of LGBTQ Director Ian Stanley, “Eliseo is on fire to make our community better.”

Since its inception in 2013, the CanDo Spirit Award, sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners, celebrates outstanding work performed by an exceptional young professional in the Napa County nonprofit sector. Each Napa County nonprofit may nominate an employee age 30 or younger who has served for at least one year. The award comes with a $1,000 prize.

The CanDo Spirit Award is part of Napa Valley CanDo's fourth annual Give!Guide project, which raises funds and awareness for over 40 local nonprofits. Rivas is recognized for exemplary work with LGBTQ Connection, a program offered by the nonprofit group On the Move. LGBTQ Connection strives to create a healthy, diverse and inclusive LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning) community, driven by youth and other emerging leaders in the North Bay Area.

Rivas’ time at LGBTQ Connection is spent developing youth leadership opportunities, creating a sense of community, and empowering young voices,m CanDo said in a news release.

Rivas readily shares that one primary goal is to create “an unmatched youth leadership team that represents the diversity of Napa County and becomes a leadership force for the whole LGBTQ community.”

Rivas identifies as gender-neutral, and as such, doesn’t use pronouns that signal gender identification, such as ‘he’ or ‘she’. Instead, Rivas’ pronouns are ‘they/them’ and the gender-neutral title ‘Mx.’

After attaining a bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego and serving in AmeriCorps in Bronx, New York, Rivas settled in Napa in 2015. “What motivates me to work for LGBTQ Connection,” Rivas says, “is the opportunity to empower my people. This means the LGBTQ community, communities of color, and communities from poorer backgrounds.”

Rivas is willing to extend support and guidance to anyone who is in need. Director Ian Stanley notes that on multiple occasions “Eliseo has stayed late - at the end of an already long day of work - to spend time with a family whose child has just come out to them and are in need of understanding and presence.”

The award and prize money will be officially bestowed during CanDo’s Give!Guide kick-off celebration Nov. 3. The event is free and open to the public.