CLINTON — Surrounded by his friends and family, the Rev. Ray Gimenez, of Victory Center Ministries, received a unique honor Monday as he was granted the 10th annual Human Rights Commission award.
By accepting the accolade, Gimenez joins a list of individuals who’ve earned the award, which is given by a committee that honors people in securing freedom from discrimination for all individuals within the city of Clinton.
“He clothes, feeds and houses people who would otherwise go without, regardless of who they are or where they come from,” Human Rights Commission Chairwoman Leslie McCreery said.
A native of Cuba who fled to the United States with his family in 1961, Gimenez has seen his hardships in life. As a young man growing up in the ghettos of New York City, he watched his family struggle to succeed in an English-speaking culture, turning to alcohol to cope with a lack of success in their new life.
Wanting to make a difference for his parents, Gimenez began a career in baseball hoping that would be his path to success in the United States. And, when he was drafted in 1971 in the fourth round by the Detroit Tigers, he knew he had done something right.
”When I was drafted I gave all my money to my mom and dad because my heart said ‘I don’t want you to drink anymore Mom and Dad. Stop these parties,’” Gimenez said. “And the rest is history.”
His minor league career brought him to Clinton in 1973 where he eventually established his roots. However, it wasn’t until 1987 that he opened the Victory Center Ministries and Thrift Store after “God called upon” him to do something bigger.
Now, by mimicking the model he’s created in Clinton, Gimenez has spread his teachings at the Victory Center to more than 10 countries around the world.