Miami Volunteer to be Honored at Millennium International Volunteer Awards Gala

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Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release
February 25, 2000

Media Note

Miami Volunteer to be Honored at  Millennium International Volunteer Awards Gala

U.S. Department of State and USA TODAY Celebrate “Reaching Out to the World: Volunteering to Create a Global Neighborhood”

Mr. Xavier Cortada of Miami, FL, is among 32 award winners to receive the Millennium International Volunteer Award in Washington, DC, on March 1. The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, in partnership with USA TODAY, is sponsoring the special project to celebrate the contributions to international educational and cultural exchange made by Americans and U.S. permanent residents throughout the United States. By giving of their time, talent, and effort on behalf of visitors from other nations and newly arrived residents of our country, these volunteers have enhanced the cause of global understanding and international education. The Millennium International Volunteer Awards Program, designed to give national recognition and prominence to the volunteers’ achievements and educate the American public about U.S. international affairs activities, is designated as an official program of the White House Millennium Council.

Each winner has been invited to receive the award at the “Millennium International Volunteer Awards Gala,” on March 1, at 7:30 p.m., at the National Building Museum (401 F Street, NW). U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley will deliver the keynote speech and an estimated 500 to 700 guests will attend the gala, including senior government officials and distinguished guests. A $5,000 donation will also be made to a non-profit organization designated by each winner.

A symposium on Capitol Hill, to be addressed by Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA), will provide an opportunity for the award winners to exchange ideas and success stories as well as establish partnerships among international volunteer organizations and programs, on March 1 at 8:30 a.m. (Room 902 Senate Hart Building).

As an artist based in Miami, Xavier Cortada has always been aware of the needs of his community. While at the University of Miami in the late 1980s, Mr. Cortada founded two organizations: “Vecinos en Accion” (Neighbors in Action), a local organization dedicated to fighting crime and improving the lives of people, and “Regis House,” a drug abuse prevention and treatment center. Today, as an internationally recognized artist, Mr. Cortada has found a unique way to use his talents to address social and political issues on a local level and around the globe. He has developed a special collaborative process that brings people together to jointly create a visual message ¾ a mural ¾ that helps them and others become more aware of critical issues facing our world, explore their own thoughts and feelings about these issues, and propose solutions. The creative process begins with an open group discussion of the issue at hand. Each person present is then asked to express himself or herself by writing, drawing, or painting on a separate piece of paper. These messages are then incorporated into a larger piece designed by Mr. Cortada himself. Through this method, voices are united by common concerns. Mr. Cortada has traveled to four continents to address issues such as drug abuse, gang violence, poverty, AIDS, community development, political freedom, and human rights. He has lectured widely on the use of art as an agent of social change, and he has selflessly given of his time and talents to help numerous non-profit groups, museums, schools and social service organizations worldwide create murals about issues of importance to them. His web site ( displays some of his artwork and contains information on the various projects in which he is involved. Xavier Cortada has used his artistic gifts to generously support volunteer services for others. His designated organization is Regis House

For additional information or to arrange coverage of the Millennium International Volunteer Awards Gala or the winners’ Capitol Hill symposium, please contact Catherine Stearns, Office of Regional Media and Press Outreach, phone (202) 647-0874 or e-mail