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September 13, 2012

Gavilan College announces 2012 Community Spirit Awards

WHO: Presented by the Gavilan College Board of Trustees to Mike and Mary Cox, the Community Law Enforcement Foundation, and Commonwealth Central Credit Union of Morgan Hill; Diana Dufur, C.H.E.E.R, and Dutchman's Pizza of Gilroy; and Joan Sattler, Friends of the San Benito Free Library, and Off the Chain, of San Benito County.


WHAT: This set of awards is presented annually to individuals, organizations, and businesses who contribute in a strong, positive way to the communities within the Gavilan Joint Community College. Three sets of awards are presented each year, in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and San Benito County. Each set of awards will be presented at a breakfast in the community of those being honored.



Morgan Hill awards: October 4 at the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, 7:15 a.m. at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center

Gilroy awards: October 17, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, 6:45 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn

San Benito County awards: Hollister Downtown Association quarterly breakfast, 7:30 a.m., January 23, 2013.  Location TBA


WHY: The awards were created in 1999 through Board Resolution 739, in order to promote and recognize service to the communities Gavilan College serves. A representative committee of the campus community reviews nominations and selects the award winners. Anyone may nominate an individual, organization, or business in the community for an award. All members of the community are invited to submit nominations for individuals, businesses, and organizations deserving of recognition. A nominee who is not selected may be renominated for the next year. For nomination forms and more information, go to or call (408) 848-4724.



Mike and Mary Cox, Morgan Hill Individual: 

Mary & Mike work as a team to help non-profit organizations and contribute not only financial help but work tirelessly on events, opening their home for the benefit of numerous community organizations.  They have supported the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill events (Dazzle, golf tournament, senior citizen dinner, Mushroom Mardi Gras); Leadership Morgan Hill (in 2012 they donated supplied the food and catering for the Leadership Excellence Award Dinner.  The event netted $47,000 since expenses were minimal.) They host silent auction dinners at their home; host AAUW fundraising dinners at their home; Mike and Mary contribute to Saint Louise Regional Hospital in all fundraising events, both financially and as silent auction donors.



Community Law Enforcement Foundation, Morgan Hill Organization:

The Community Law Enforcement Foundation of Morgan Hill (CLEF) was founded to provide funding for much needed tools and training for the Morgan Hill Police Department.  Their first project was reinstatement of the K-9 unit and ongoing expenses for the police dog. Other achievements include the purchase of a NOPTIC thermal imaging camera which led to the arrest of a drug dealer on one of the first nights it was put to use, an ALPR license plate reader that, on its maiden voyage located a car with stolen plates and more recently led to the arrest of some of the individuals responsible for a crime wave of residential burglaries, and support of the MHPD’s Parent Project; a program geared at parents of at-risk teens to help provide them with the tools necessary to deal with their kids’ truant behaviors.  CLEF is an all volunteer organization; 100% of all donations have gone to support the Morgan Hill Police Department and help to make the Morgan Hill community a safer place to live and work .



Commonwealth Central Credit Union, Morgan Hill Business:

Commonwealth Central Credit Union and their employees support and participate in numerous community events, notably:  Morgan Hill July 4th Freedom Fest Parade. Chamber of Commerce Friday Night Music Series, giving out beach balloons to kids, Downtown Concert Series on Thursday nights each summer, Bow Wow Luau Golf Tournament, Cops & Robbers Ball, a Community Law Enforcement activity, and the AAUW Wildflower Run. Commonwealth Credit Union has been located in Morgan Hill for over 20 years.



Diana Dufur, Gilroy Individual

Diana Dufur gets things done. She volunteers as the Public Affairs coordinator for the Gilroy Church of Latter Day Saints, and is dedicated to interfaith cooperation to serve the community. She began the Gilroy National Family Week Committee, and works on the Gilroy Recreation Department’s annual poster contest in partnership with the Rotary Club and the Police Department. She is also a member of the South County Collaborative and the Gilroy Homeless Task Force. She is the food service coordinator for Project Homeless Connect, a quarterly event serving hundreds of people. She coordinates quarterly American Red Cross blood drives at the LDS church. She volunteers at St. Joseph’s for Fresh Produce give-away days, and at the Armory to serve meals. She serves as the board treasurer and is a founding member of the Gilroy Compassion Center. She also works on an Annual Christmas Concert St. Catherine’s Catholic Church in Morgan Hill. She coordinates quarterly Mormon Helping Hands Day with the LDS church, involving hundreds of volunteers in projects such as creek clean-ups. She is also the administrator for the new website to link volunteers with community needs.



CHEER (Coastal Habitat Education and Environmental Restoration), Gilroy Organization

CHEER works to clean up and restore our local watershed ecosystem, repopulating it with salmon and steelhead trout. Founder Herman Garcia has always had “a passion for keeping our waterways clean and healthy. He has made a personal effort to see the steelhead population reproduce in our area and educate the younger generation the importance of not disturbing the ecological process” according to his brother. In 2012 this included a service and learning opportunity for school children, putting in beneficial plants at Silva’s Crossing. Garcia’s crew has removed tons of debris, from shopping carts to downed trees that block the spawning of steelhead. In one year, CHEER saved 23,000 steelhead, most of them a few inches long, but 57 adults up to 12 pounds. CHEER transports steelhead stranded in drying pools to areas that have water. In 2008, Garcia's organization transported more than 23,000 steelhead, a dramatic number compared to the 100-200 fish reported in the entire Pajaro River system in 1991. CHEER enlists the help of homeless individuals who live along the creek, providing them with the tools for cleanup and food in return.



Dutchmans Pizza, Gilroy Business

Dutchman’s Pizza is a locally owned, community-engaged business.  They are frequently the venue for community events and fundraisers. Providing the opportunity for teams, arts clubs, and families to raise money for a cause or event. Families have been able to host events at Dutchman’s to raise money for funeral expenses for their loved ones. They have been a sales venue for tickets for school events, and CD's for local musicians. They support youth athletics events in the community, such as Dutchman's Pizza Hot August Softball Tournament, Second Annual Dutchman's Central Coast Home Run Derby, Garlic Festival Men's E Softball Tournament, Gilroy Volunteers in Policing, Gilroy High field hockey, and California Junior Scholarship Federation's inaugural Men's Softball Tournament When a tragic murder occurred, Dutchman’s hosted Community Solutions to provide resources on domestic violence; and donated 25 percent of all food sales to a fund set up for the victim’s children.



Joan Sattler, San Benito County Individual

Joan is recognized for over 30 years of donating her time, talents and skills to multiple individuals and organizations in San Benito County. She has donated her skills with computers, photography and film, layout, exhibits, posters, and creating displays to benefit the community. She is particularly involved with the San Benito County Free Library. She has contributed to community events such as the Women’s History tea, Memorial Day commemoration and Spring Concert, and Older Americans Month with Jovenes de Antano.  She recently worked to help people and organizations in San Benito County find and recover their property. The community is much richer for her involvement.



Friends of the San Benito County Library, San Benito County Organization

The volunteers who make up the Friends of the San Benito County Free Library provide much-needed support. They have been in existence for 32 years. They host events and write grants to raise money for the library. Contributing thousands of hours per year. In this time of budget cuts, with local school libraries not operating, the Friends of the San Benito County Free Library are more important than ever.



Off the Chain Bicycles, San Benito County Business

"Off the Chain" sells and is involved with everything to do with bikes.  They organize free bike rides to promote health.  The owner is on the committee working on a Bike Path that will connect San Juan Bautista and Hollister.  They offer free bike repair classes, and often donate money or in-kind services to elementary schools. San Benito County promotes a free helmet giveaway with “Off the Chain” serving as the distribution location for the helmets.  Needy children get a voucher from the county and then go to Off the Chain for a free helmet and proper fitting of the helmet.






Last modified: August 17, 2011
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