OCEANSIDE — The city, in partnership with the North San Diego County NAACP, named longtime resident Beatriz “Bea” Palmer the recipient of the 2024 Oceanside Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award at the annual breakfast ceremony on Jan. 15.
Palmer grew up in Oceanside after immigrating to the United States from Mexico at a young age with her parents, graduating from Oceanside High School in 1990 and studying at MiraCosta College. From there, she transferred and earned her bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University and a master’s degree in sociology from Arizona State University. She is currently a doctoral student in education at San Diego State University.
Throughout her life, Palmer has served in multiple capacities, from helping her parents navigate a new culture and language and assisting fellow community members in need to previously serving on the city’s Housing and Community Relations commissions.
Today, she serves in various leadership roles, including as board president of Operation HOPE, a homeless shelter for single women and families in Vista. She also serves on the North San Diego County NAAC board, the Alliance for Regional Solutions, and the North San Diego County Promise.
Palmer credits her family for her passion for serving the community. She is the daughter of indigenous and black farm workers with strong work ethics who strived to help their neighbors in need despite their six-day, dawn-to-dusk work weeks throughout her childhood.
“We didn’t get to spend time volunteering as a family, at least not like most imagine, but they always found ways to serve others,” she said of her parents. “Like helping in neighborhood food distributions, or helping prepare a hot meal for someone who’s hungry, or opening our home to someone about to become homeless.”
According to the city, the award is given annually to a resident of Oceanside who exemplifies the ideas and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and has served the community in volunteer activities over a long period.
Palmer was honored to receive this year’s award and be recognized through several nominations.
The first time she saw the wall of MLK award recipient photos in the Oceanside Public Library, she noticed that many faces didn’t look like her – an Afro-Latina, Black and Indigenous woman. She hoped to one day change that.
“It feels good to be seen,” she said.
In her nominations, Palmer was described as “collaborative, inspiring, empowering, and uplifting,” thus exemplifying the attributes of Dr. King.
According to the city, Palmer is an “engaged and transformational community leader and volunteer who strives to advance equity in all of her service.” She is committed to social justice, and her leadership has inspired positive change and set an example for others to follow.
Fellow Operation HOPE-North County board colleagues also spoke kindly about Palmer.
“Bea’s passion, dedication and commitment to advocacy for so many in our communities come from her heart, and she leads with a voice of caring and determination,” said Board Secretary Cindy Taylor via email. “In her role as president of the board of Operation HOPE-North County, as well as being a participant in a multitude of community spaces, she lends a voice for others and works for positive change.”
Treasurer Mick Bostwick called Palmer a “pillar of strength” for the community, and the award is a clear example of why.
“I am blessed to be in her community,” Bostwick said via email.
Palmer has lived a life of service, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.