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December 15, 2003

-San Benito County Community Spirit Awards will be presented December 16-

WHO: Individuals, organizations and businesses in the communities Gavilan College serves

WHAT: Will be honored through an annual awards program: Community Spirit Awards are presented each year in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and San Benito County, to recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations who show active commitment to their communities. Two sets of awards have already been presented this year. In September, the Morgan Hill awards were given to Karen Crane (individual), Booksmart (business), and Leadership Morgan Hill (organization). In November, the Gilroy awards were presented to Connie Rogers (individual), Wize Owl Bookstore (business), and Community Solutions (organization). The final set of awards, for San Benito County, will go to Ignacio Velazquez (individual), Dona Esther Restaurant (business), and the Y.M.C.A. of San Benito County (organization).

WHEN: Tuesday, December 16 from 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.

WHERE: Gavilan College Hollister: The Briggs Building, corner of 4th and San Benito streets in Hollister

WHY: Community Spirit Awards are presented by the Gavilan College Board of Trustees to citizens who make significant contributions to their community. The awards' purpose is to recognize, and celebrate the people and organization who are committed to bettering their communities, and to increase recognition and awareness of contributions across the communities that are served by Gavilan College. In so doing the college aims to build a bridge of respect and service across the district. One award in each community is given to an individual, one is given to a business, and the third is given to an organization.

Community Spirit Awards were instituted in 1999 by the Gavilan College Board of Trustees in Board Resolution 739 which states, in part, "whereas any celebration of specific or general accomplishment constitutes a symbolic triumph for all within the community....therefore be it resolved the Gavilan Joint Community College District will establish an appropriate method by which to recognize and celebrate citizens." Any member of the Gavilan College community may nominate a candidate for recognition. An award committee then discusses the nominees, and selects winners to present to the President's Council.

Last year's award winners in San Benito County were Joe Navarro, Community Pantry, and San Benito Bank.

Following is information about this year's winners:

Ignacio Velazquez: Ignacio Velazquez has been an active participant in Hollister and San Benito County's business and cultural life. He has been especially active in the San Benito County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. A frequent volunteer at local civic events, Ignacio has been active in many local organizations: past president of the San Benito County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, advocate for a San Benito County Center for the Arts, and president of the Hollister Downtown Association. Through his businesses, he sponsors many community activities, including San Benito High School sports programs, City of Hollister Recreation Department youth sports programs, the San Benito County Chapter of the American Red Cross, San Benito County Y.M.C.A., and the San Benito County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Don~a Esthers:
Owner Al Casteneda is a very giving individual, contributing to "any and all groups that approach him for support" by volunteering time, money, and food. He was enthusiasticly recommended for this award by the San Juan Bautista Chamber of Commerce, who stated:"he is very deserving of this award for all of the generosity and assistance he offers to all...for all that he does for this community and the county at large." Dona Esthers is often listed as a sponsor for a wide variety of local arts, charitable events, and civic groups.

Y.M.C.A.
Now in its third year of operation, the YMCA of San Benito County offers a variety of programs to the community: youth sports, camp programs, after-school recreation, "Friday Night Hoops and Bowling". They are planning new programs to address the lack of fitness in school-age children and a nutrition program called Fit Kids. Their programs are designed to develop self-esteem and strengthen interpersonal relationships among participants as well as reinforce educational training and positive family values as they focus on the core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.

The Gavilan Joint Community College District serves the communities of South Santa Clara County and San Benito County, including Coyote Valley, Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, Hollister, and San Juan Bautista.

For more information about the Community Spirit Awards, please contact Jan Bernstein Chargin, Director of Public Information at (408) 848-4724.

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Last modified: August 17, 2011
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