POMONA -- More than 35 community members from all walks of life will be recognized as Community Heroes during the L.A. County Fair, which begins Sept. 4 at the Fairplex.
The heroes live or work in 16 cities surrounding the Fairplex and will be honored during each city’s day at the fair, Fairplex spokeswoman Renee Hernandez said.
The Community Heroes, a component of the L.A. Fair’s Community Days program, has been in place for close to 20 years, she said.
“It’s become a large part of the whole Community Days program,” Hernandez said.
Community Heroes gives cities the opportunity to honor “people that normally don’t get recognized” but who are making valuable contributions to their community, she said.
Initially it was only adults who were being honored, but with time the program was expanded to include seniors and youth honorees.
In the case of teens, fair organizers felt it was important to recognize young people for their leadership and volunteer efforts, Hernandez said.
Community Heroes are selected by committees. Several cities — such as Chino, Chino Hills, Claremont, Glendora, La Verne, San Dimas and Pomona — that are among the closest to Fairplex have city committees consisting of residents and business people, she said. Among the duties of each committee is to review their city’s Community Hero nominations and select the winners.
In the case of other cities, a panel made up of members from the fair’s Community Relations Department review the Community Heroes nominees and selects the honorees, Hernandez said.
Each Community Hero will be a special guest during the city’s Community Days reception and will be presented with a plaque.
The following is a list of Community Heroes and the day the will be honored with descriptions of their work provided by the L.A. County Fair:
Pomona Day, Sept. 4
• Young Hero Briseyda Mata-Garcia is a volunteer at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. She regularly completes two volunteer shifts a week and regularly fills in for other volunteers. She also volunteers at other Pomona institutions.
• Pomona Unified School District Superintendent Richard Martinez will be recognized with the Distinguished Service Award. He will be recognized for his work across the community but in particular for his work in support of Pomona Unified families. The long time educator has worked to close the academic achievement gap in the district and to ensure students are prepared to be part of global economy’s workforce.
• Ethel Gardner is Pomona’s Senior Community Hero. Through the Kennedy Austin Foundation, which she founded, Gardner assists families who have lost children. Gardner is also a member of Pomona Cares and as part of that group has taken the lead in assembling Pomona Cares packages delivered to families of homicide victims.
Upland Day, Sept. 9
Upland is recognizing five veterans, one from each branch of the military service, as the city’s Community Heroes.
• Ken Willis fought in Vietnam as a member of the Army. He is a past member of the Upland City Council and has been a member of various water boards that serve the Chino water basin.
• Faustino Sandoval was a member of the Navy for several years as a radioman and was part of a beachmaster unit. He is a supporter of the Upland Adopt-A-Soldier Military Banner Program and of servicemen and women.
• Joe A. Ramos is an Air Force veteran and retired college professor who has volunteered his time in several capacities including as a youth sports coach.
• Kenneth R. Hargrove was a member of the Marine Corps and volunteered to be sent to Vietnam. He has been active with the Run For The Wall, a national organization that raises awareness of POW-MIA issues, supports military personnel and assists veterans healing from their experiences in war zones. He is also director of fund raising for the Upland Veterans Memorial Project.
• Ila Deluca was a member of the Coast Guard. The music instructor’s work includes serving as a leader in her church choir, being on the advisory board and board of directors of national non-profits as well as being a volunteer at the Yavapai Community Hospital in Prescott, Arizona.
San Dimas Day, Sept. 10
• Young Hero Cheyenne Contreras is a high school senior who has volunteered hundreds of hours with the Teen Action Committee and as a city volunteer. She has assisted at events such as the Holiday Extravaganza and the San Dimas Senior Center. She is also a leader among her peers and encourages other young people to become volunteers.
• Adult Community Hero Nancy Wilson has been a volunteer at the San Dimas Senior Center for more than six years. Wilson is always ready to assist in a various areas ranging from serving meals to dispensing information.
• Adult Community Hero Connie Brown is a retired teacher who taught children for more than 40 years. Brown volunteers her time to work with seniors who are pursuing educational goals. She donates her time to various community events and to the L.A. County Fair.
• Senior Community Hero Prudie Short is active with various organization including the San Dimas Senior Office, the San Dimas Senior Club Scholarship and has been a San Dimas Senior Commissioner for a number of years. She has lived in San Dimas for more than 90 years.
La Verne Day, Sept. 10
• Steve Kennedy been selected as the winner of the Jim Scranton Award for Exemplary Volunteer Service. Kennedy has been involved with AYSO soccer for more than 12 years. He has worked with youth as a coach, a referee and as a mentor.
• Craig Walters has been named the winner of the Jack Huntington Pride of La Verne Award for Exemplary Volunteer Service. Walters is a long time supporter of the community. His work includes establishing events and maintaining others such as he “Sip of La Verne” wine walk that benefit the community.
• Jefferson Hill will be presented the 50th Annual Older Americans Recognition Day Award. Hill was a key figure in the establishment of the La Verne/San Dimas Meals on Wheels program and is he chairman of the La Verne Veterans Memorial Committee, which collected more than $265,000 for the construction and dedication of the memorial in 2013.
Montclair Day, Sept. 11
• Adult Community Hero Emma Casillas is a volunteer lay community health promotor with the city’s Por La Vida program. The program offers health and nutrition classes to women, many of whom are Latinas. In addition, Casillas volunteer works includes assisting with the Holiday Toy and Food Basket program and promoting the Montclair Community Fruit Park.
• Senior Community Hero Irene Norquist volunteers with Montclair’s senior nutrition program, assists at the senior center’s monthly birthday parties and started a weekly needle craft class there. Norquist’s other work includes assisting at the city’s food distribution program and helping at the city’s weekly bingo program.
Ontario Day, Sept. 11
• Ontario did not participate in the Community Heroes recognition program this year.
Rancho Cucamonga Day, Sept. 11
• Matthew Hawker Jr. is the city’s Young Hero. Hawker was passing by a home in the city in May when he noticed it was on fire. Hawker helped a woman who lived in the house and her 5-year-old son escape. The woman broke a leg and the boy suffered mild smoke inhalation in the fire. Both are expected to recover.
• Victoria Jones was selected as Rancho Cucamonga’s Adult Community Hero. She is dedicated to improving public health and awareness. She’s a supporter of the Rancho Cucamonga City Health Services. Jones also serves as commissioner on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission and is currently president of the Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail.
Claremont Day, Sept. 17
• Jasmine Lyn was named a Young Hero. Jasmine, who in the spring finished second grade at Condit Elementary, is active in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Although she has experienced serious health problems, Jasmine has a positive attitude.
• Shea Seery is a Young Hero. Shea is a high achieving student at Claremont High School and is a member of the school’s Forensics Team in policy debate. She founded the school’s literary journal. The National Charity League member has registered more than 125 hours of community service.
• Mike Alpert is Claremont’s Adult Community Hero. Alpert is president of the Claremont Club. In his 18 years with the club Alpert has fostered a culture that emphasizes making an impact in the lives of others. His work includes launching several health programs including Living Well with Cancer, a free program offered in partnership with Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center’s Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center.
• Claremont’s Senior Community Hero is Eleanor Pierson. Pierson is a founding parent of Foothill Country Day School. She joined the school’s staff in 1964 and retired this year. Pierson was the longest serving staff member of the school. In addition to her work at the school, Pierson has been active in the city for many years and have served on various boards.
Chino Hills Day, Sept. 18
• Chino Hills High School student Kayla Jones is Chino Hills’ Young Hero. The honor student and varsity athlete who volunteers her time with a number of organizations including the Chino Hills High School Black Student Union. Jones also volunteers at her church and helps with the set up of a variety of community events.
• Adult Community Hero Laura Montegue reunites lost pets with their owners and finds suitable homes for strays. Montegue will house lost animals until their owners are located. She provides shelter to strays until permanent homes are found. Montague is involved in removing graffiti in her community and is active in Special Olympics.
Chino Day, Sept. 23
• Brianna Cabrera, Chino’s Young Hero, is a founding member of the Don Antonio Lugo High School Best Buddies program. Through Best Buddies, students with intellectual or developmental disabilities are paired with students without disabilities. Cabrera participates in the Guide Dogs for the Blind Training Program in addition to being an athlete and is involved in student government.
• Senior Hero Augustine Tapia is the current president of the Chino Valley Historical Society. He kept the organization functioning after the immediate past president’s death. His work with the organization includes collaborating with other Historical Society members to complete projects such as updating bylaws and planning community and historical projects.
Diamond Bar Day, Sept. 24
• Diamond Bar’s Young Hero is Garrett Masuda. He has served three terms as a board member of the city’s DB 4Youth group, which is a part of Diamond Bar’s Youth Master Plan. The teen was part of formulating and launching Diamond Bar’s first city-wide food drive and organized a team that participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
• Rosette and Richard Clippinger are Diamond Bar’s Adult Community Heroes. Rosette Clippinger helps those in need as well as organizations that assisted the community. She has organized benefit auctions for community organizations. Richard Clippinger is involved with Habitat for Humanity and assists with the painting and clean of homes of those in need. He also provides transportation to cancer patients residing in the area.
• Senior Hero Ray McMullen has worked with children for 37 years in various capacities. The former military serviceman works to support local food drives and student scholarships. He established a visiting program for Chinese students and started a Students Against Drunk Drivers group.
Fontana Day, Sept. 25
• April You is Fontana’s Young Hero. The Los Oso’s High School student has been an active member of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board and has been its chairwoman the last two years. She has played a lead role in the Anti-Bullying Summit, the Teen Safe Driving Rally and other events.
• Adult Community Hero Rob Bock has always been involved in sports. He was an athlete throughout his youth. As an adult, the Fontana native shifted his attention to coaching youth. Bock overcome health problems and continues involved in his church and in Fontana as an employee of Fontana’s Community Services Department.
• Senior Hero Karen Coleman has been a dedicated volunteer in Fontana for close to 40 years. She is a member of the Parks and Community Services Commission and is a volunteer at the Fontana Community Senior Center. She has served on the board of directors of numerous organizations.
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