Community Service Awards Honor Volunteers

The 40th Annual Community Service Awards were presented on Tuesday, April 19, at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa. Sponsored by United Way Monterey County Volunteer Center, this free community event honored more than 120 individual volunteers.  The Community Alliance for Safety and Peace and its volunteers were also recognized as during the ceremony.  Emcees were Dann Cianca, Chief Meteorologist at KION and Tre Watkins, UWMC Community Impact Manager.
Selected for Outstanding Volunteer Awards are:
Outstanding Youth Service:   Alexandria Lopez
Alexandria Lopez is a full-time student at California State University, Monterey Bay. For the last 13 months, she has volunteered at the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center, amassing over 150 hours per quarter as a sexual assault counselor. Alexandria’s work has including responding to victims on the crisis hotline and as part of the organization’s hospital response team, ensuring that survivors do not face the additional trauma alone.
Outstanding Lifetime of Service:  Al Holmstrom 
Al Holmstrom has served for the past 13 years as a volunteer leader for Breakthrough for Men. He has created two programs, “Breakthrough 3” and the “Breakthrough Alumni Association.” Breakthrough 3 is 12-week training for graduates of other Breakthrough for Men workshops that focuses on becoming better community leaders. Al created a syllabus and study material, recruited trainers and led classes, saving Breakthrough for Men thousands. The creation of the Alumni Association generated over $40,000 in donations in a year, helping to fund Breakthrough’s move to Seaside. 
Outstanding Lifetime of Service:  Lavonne Chin
Lavonne Chin has been a dedicated, active volunteer for many organizations and events throughout Monterey County over 20 years. She has served on five non-profit boards and as a member or chair of at least 20 fundraising events. For the Arts Council, Lavonne drew on her “super star” event planning skills as chair for the annual Champions of the Arts gala. In this role, she provided leadership, coordinated meeting agendas, and fine tuned the event to incorporate new elements such as the “Fund a Need’ auction, which raised over $15,000 in just a few minutes. The funds raised from this event support arts education in the community. Lavonne’s dedication and leadership have been to helping the Arts Council continue to meet their mission.
Outstanding Service for Education: Jerry Gleason
Jerry Gleason has been teaching and volunteering with L.I.F.E. for over a decade. As a retired engineer, Jerry first became involved with L.I.F.E as a tutor. Now serving as Chair of the Board of Directors, Jerry has promoted a passion interest for the STEM field by coaching Tech Challenge and First Lego League teams. Jerry has also taught Scratch programming classes in which students can create their own games and interactive stories.  
Outstanding Service for Health:  Margaret Chung Prodis.
Margaret Chung Prodis has served as a board member and volunteer at Kernes Adaptive Aquatics for the past 25 years. Margaret has worked to make warm water exercise programs accessible to more than 120 people with special needs each year. Additionally, Margaret has played a significant role in fundraising, which has enabled Kernes Pool to provide over 10,000 adaptive aquatic sessions per year, meeting the community’s growing needs.
Outstanding Service for Health:  Mended Hearts Chapter 370 
Mended Hearts Chapter 370 has been supporting Salinas Valley Memorial Heath System though peer-to-peer cardiac support groups for over five years. In 2015, Mended Hears recorded over 600 shifts and 2,200 hours of service. By checking on patients and families during hospitalization, and providing access to community resources, Mended Hearts promoted health and wellness through a traumatic time in peoples’ lives. 
Outstanding Service for Economic Self-Sufficiency:  Loaves, Fishes, and Computers 
Loaves, Fishes and Computers provides low-cost or no-cost computer systems and technology assistance to low-income families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. Collectively, LFC have volunteered over 10,550 hours over the past 3 years, supporting the mission of alleviating poverty through computer technology. LFC has established new programs to meet the community’s needs, such as a new partnership with the DREAM Academy in which high school students learn to refurbish computers, while providing a computer to the student’s family and donating another to a local family.
Outstanding Service for Economic Self-Sufficiency:  Sue Higgins. 
Sue Higgins has volunteered at the Lyceum of Monterey County for over five years to increase girl’s interest and access to STEM education and careers. She created the Lyceum of Monterey County’s Cyber Adventurers Program, a summer camp that provides young women the opportunity to learn the basics of computer programming and robotics. Additionally, Sue has acted as a mentor to many girls who aspire to STEM educations and careers, providing valuable advice and guidance.   
Outstanding Service for Safety: Jesse Tamayo 
Jesse Tamayo has served as the advisor for the Marina High School National Coalition Building Institute Team for over 10 years. In this time, Jesse has guided NCBI student leadership in the creation of new anti-bullying programs that celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King. Jesse has also been an active NCBI board member, and has worked to ensure that the goals of educating youth and community members about diversity issues are achieved.

In addition to the Community Service Awards, Jose Arreola, Community Safety Administrator for the City of Salinas and Director of the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, presented three awards to volunteers instrumental in the founding and success of CASP.

  • The Founders Award: Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, which embodies the core values of CASP — Collaboration for increased impact, data to drive action, deep and meaningful community engagement, and having youth at the center of decision making.
  • The Safety and Peace: Salinas Police Department for its work within the violence reduction framework of PIER (Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement and Re-entry).
  • The For Our Future Award: Patterson Emesibe for outstanding youth leadership and volunteerism in violence prevention and intervention.

UWMC is grateful for the amazing sponsors who've made the CSA's possible.  A special thank you to the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa, which has been our  host for 25 years!  Sponsors are:

  • Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula
  • Rabobank
  • Pacific Valley Bank
  • Ottone, Leach, & Ray
  • Central Coast Federal Credit Union

Thank you also to our In-Kind Donors:

  • Estancia
  • Five-Star Audio Visual, Inc.
  • Jaeger Custom Frames
  • John Castagna
  • Marich Confectionery Company
  • Monterey County Herald
  • Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association
  • Randy Tunnell Photography
  • The Salinas California