The Diablo Magazine “Threads of Hope” awards ceremony welcomed friends and supporters to celebrate the dedication and impact of those volunteers who have changed our world and improved our neighborhoods.
The first Steven J. Rivera Visionary Award was bestowed on local heroes, philanthropists Tony and Elaine La Russa, for their work as creators of Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek, for their commitment to children’s issues, education and community support. Tony and Elaine make their home in Alamo, and have lived in Major League Baseball towns throughout Tony’s storied career as professional baseball player and award-winning manager.
Steven J. Rivera, Diablo magazine founder, dedicated this award to outstanding people who have created foundations in the East Bay, “demonstrating their long-term dedication to changing the world for the better.”
Contra Costa Kops for Kids co-founder, retired Walnut Creek Police Department Capt. Neil Stratton, was honored for his work with at-risk youth through Positive Mental Attitudes Seminars and the Sports Clinics program, offered at no charge to schools in Contra Costa County, with co-founder retired Concord Police Department Lt. Jim Alcorn. Most recently, Kops for Kids has rejuvenated the music program at Las Juntas Elementary in Martinez. Go to contracostakopsforkids.org, to learn more.
Award winner and Alzheimer’s advocate Zachary Smith was inspired to volunteer at the Alzheimer’s Association by his love and concern for his grandmother, sharing their lives in Moraga. Visit alz.org to learn how to help.
Honoree, retired Oakland police Officer Margaret Dixon volunteers with the Oakland Police Activities League and teaches criminal justice at Merritt College. Dixon is recognized for creating league programs for children and families and for her volunteer work as a mentor, track coach and advocate through Grandparents Release Day, Building Strong Minds and Adopt a Family. Follow her work at oaklandpal.org.
April Rovero, of San Ramon, suffered the loss of her son, Joey, due to a deadly combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. Rovero founded the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse and is dedicated to raising awareness through public appearances in schools, community organizations and working with local youth groups. Visit ncapda.org to get involved.
Volunteer award winner Jane Emanuel, of Lafayette, dedicates her talents in a variety of areas, including counseling troubled neighbors on the crisis line for the Contra Costa Crisis Center, chairing the Lafayette Art’s Commission, and as a docent at the Bedford Gallery at Diablo Regional Arts Center in Walnut Creek. For more information, visit crisis-center.org.
Diablo Magazine presented the event earlier in December at the Orinda Theatre, with generous support from Wells Fargo, Contra Costa Oncology and Lamorinda Theaters. NBC11 News co-anchor Jessica Aguirre was welcomed back as the mistress of ceremonies. The honorees and their organizations are featured in the December issue of Diablo Magazine.
The 2014 Threads of Hope panel of judges included: Jessica Aguirre, weeknight co-anchor of NBC Bay Area News; Mario Alioto, senior vice president, business operations, San Francisco Giants; Mark Flower, senior vice president and regional director for Wells Fargo Private Bank; Steve Lesher, vice president, Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation, and manager of communications and sustainable development, Shell Oil Company; Jo A. S. Loss, executive director at the Volunteer Center of the East Bay; and Carole Wynstra, president of the Walnut Creek Library Foundation and past president of Diablo Theatre Company.
Share the warmth
One Warm Coat has 26 local drop-off locations for gently used child and adult coats, sweaters, jackets, sweatshirts, hats and mittens throughout the holiday season and early in the new year.
The items donated will benefit those in need in the local community. Big O Tires in Concord, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill and Lafayette will collect items through Jan. 15. UPS stores in Walnut Creek, Concord, Martinez and Pleasant Hill are requesting donations by Jan. 4. For a complete list of locations and open hours, visit www.onewarmcoat.org.
Stars to the Rescue
Proceeds from the “Stars to the Rescue” benefit performance at Lesher Center for the Arts on Saturday, Jan. 10, enable Animal Rescue Foundation to find homes for dogs and cats rescued from public shelters and “bring people and animals together to enrich each other’s lives.”
Tickets for the annual sellout event begin at $45. The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, in Walnut Creek.
Visit www.lesherartscenter.org for ticket information.
Performances will feature American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, Jim Beavers, The Warren Brothers, Loren Gold, Karl Perazzo, Marc Russo and a performance by Caminos Flamencos.
Coping with holidays
The holiday season is a time to give thanks and celebrate. However, for many the holidays are an unhappy time. Hospice of the East Bay offers a Coping with the Holidays workshop for people who have experienced the death of a loved one and find the holiday season to be a sad and stressful time of the year.
The next workshop is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at Hospice, 3470 Buskirk Ave., in Pleasant Hill. Call 925-887-5678 for more information.
Hospice of the East Bay is seeking volunteers to assist Hospice patients and their caregivers. Volunteers provide companionship to patients and respite time for caregivers. There is free training. Email [email protected].
Blue Star Moms
Contra Costa Blue Star Moms send care packages for our troops stationed all over the world. These packages are little hugs from home for our soldiers, each one a son or daughter of one of your neighbors.
There are many expenses involved, including postage to mail care packages, costing $15 each. Your contribution would make a wonderful gift in honor of a veteran in your family.
Please make a check payable to: Contra Costa Blue Star Moms, California Chapter 20, P.O. Box 6379, Concord, CA 94524.
Volunteers are needed all year-round to help with programs that include Operation Postcard, Sewing for our Troops, Operation Pillow Case, the Blue Star Store, parades and more.
Sign up at [email protected], call 925-686-3944 or visit www.ccbluestarmoms.org.
“Good Neighbors” is compiled by Faith Barnidge. Send club and organization news, Scouting items, notices of awards and other submissions to [email protected].