Courtesy of Gavilan College:
At their October meeting, the Gavilan College Board of Trustees announced the winners of the Community Spirit Awards for 2020. The awards are presented annually, in each of the communities served by Gavilan College, to honor the people and institutions that contribute to improving the quality of life in each community. Each of the three sets of awards includes an individual, a business, and an organization.
In most years, the awards are presented at breakfast ceremonies in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and San Benito County. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, the awards will be presented outdoors in a personal visit to each award-winner from Gavilan College Superintendent / President Dr. Kathleen A. Rose and one or more members of the Gavilan College Board of Trustees. The award presentations will be captured on video and then posted online for the community to celebrate and enjoy.
This year’s awards will be presented to:
Morgan Hill / San Martin:
- Individual – Mike Beasley
- Organization – Second Harvest Food Bank
- Business – Rocca’s Market
- Individual – Lillian Silva
- Organization – Leadership Gilroy Class of 2020
- Business – First Street Togo’s
San Benito County:
- Individual – Al Bonturi
- Organization – Hollister Community Outreach (Linda and Patrick Lampe)
- Business – Pinnacle Farms
About the Community Spirit Award winners (in alphabetical order, with information provided by the nominators):
Mike Beasley (Morgan Hill/ San Martin Individual)– When Mike Beasley retired from his career at IBM he made a decision to dedicate a portion of his time to solving problems in the community — applying his business experience to the greater public good. He was a founding board member of the Gilroy Compassion Center in 2011 and since then has served as Vice Chair, Advisor, Advisory Board Chair and this year became the Board Chair of the organization — dedicated to addressing homelessness in South County. In Morgan Hill the Compassion Center is a partner in the FOCUS Safe Parking program with Morgan Hill Bible Church and the Interfaith Alliance. As Board Chair Mike has been instrumental in recruiting and hiring the agency’s first paid, fulltime Executive Director. Mike has spent countless hours advocating, researching, team-building, and planning with the Compassion Center. He is dedicated to long-term solutions for homelessness and building the team to make it happen. He has also served on the statewide MESA board, on the South County Council of United Way, and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Housing Trust Silicon Valley. Mike has never sought any public attention or personal recognition for this work, but his impact has been great and has helped to provide a pathway to housing for homeless people in South County.
Al Bonturi (San Benito County Individual) – Alfred Bonturi was born and raised in Hollister, California to a father who was an immigrant from Italy and a mother from California as one of a large family of six girls and four boys. Al graduated from San Benito High School. He started at San Benito Junior College but only finished one year as at the age of fourteen after his father passed away (he was the oldest boy and had to take over the family farming business.) Through the years he has grown apricots, prunes, table grapes and walnuts. He has served on the San Benito County Farm Bureau, California Walnut Commission, University of California Cooperative Extension, and has been a member of the Hollister Elk’s Lodge for over 75 years. Described as “a staple of the San Benito County Farm Bureau” who has served on its board of directors for more than 70 years, farmer Al Bonturi of Hollister received statewide recognition when he was presented the 2019 California Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award. He has been involved with the Pacheco Pass Water District and worked hard to bring San Felipe water to the county. He has been a life-long supporter of Future Farmers of America, of which he was a member when he was just a boy. He was honored as the 2010 Farmer of the Year by the San Benito County Board of Supervisors but his influence in the agricultural industry expands beyond recent years and the county line. He is a wealth of information and has shared his knowledge and experience over the years with other farmers to help them improve their practices. At 95, Al Bonturi still manages and works his ranch in Hollister, where he started working full time at 14. He is an integral part of our local farming industry and history. He is a well-respected outstanding member of our community and deserves this award for his 95 years of San Benito Community Spirit.
Linda and Patrick Lampe, Hollister Community Outreach( San Benito County Organization) – Linda and her husband Patrick run the Hollister Community Outreach 24/7, 365 days a year!! They have been described as “the most compassionate and kind people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.” The Lampes founded Hollister Community Outreach to serve the homeless and are full-time in their support, starting a drop-in center, providing clothing, food, and community, and seeking out the resources to get people back on their feet. Since the pandemic started, they have been making daily deliveries of hot meals to people living in encampments and on the streets, maintaining good nutrition and sharing hope while making it possible to shelter-in-place.
Leadership Gilroy Class of 2020 (Gilroy Organization) – This year Leadership Gilroy’s Class of 2020 put together Gilroy cLove Days. During their 3 day event they brought together the people of Gilroy, and people in 9 other states, to bring awareness of and give back to local non profits. They had a socially distanced fitness day and also had a moment of unity and then “rang the bells” to bring togetherness and healing to our community. In a time when there was a huge void due to the cancellation of the Gilroy Garlic Festival and the COVID pandemic, they brought something meaningful to Gilroy and the people that love this town! They set a record within Leadership Gilroy for fundraising, bringing in tens of thousands of dollars for multiple local nonprofits. that they accomplished all of this during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many activities, meetings and classes held remotely is even more impressive!
Pinnacle Farms (San Benito County Business) – Phil Foster is the owner and his business, Pinnacle Farms, has gone the extra mile to extend a helping hand to those in need through the Community Foodbank during these unforeseeable times of the pandemic of Covid-19. They have been providing vegetables to the San Benito County Foodbank to help feed the San Benito Community and keeping the business open on Saturdays for community accessibility to food.
Rocca’s Market (Morgan Hill/San Martin Business) – From an April Morgan Hill Life in an article about the pandemic: “Meanwhile, in San Martin, Rocca’s Market General Manager Dan Keith is helping families with a week’s worth of food. Keith and Rocca’s are supplying up to six families per day with essential food, including meat, bread, milk and produce, subject to what’s in stock. “A lot of people are going through hardships and I just wanted to help take care of people in need,” Keith said. What began as a personal project has quickly turned into a community coming together, he said. “It’s amazing,” Keith said. “I’m so proud to be a part of this community.” In the past, Rocca’s market has served as a Donation Station for toy drives, and is known for its local community orientation. A customer quote on its website, says: “Rocca’s is all about San Martin, it is the best Market in Morgan or Gilroy, prices are the best, but most of all the family is friendly, helpful and takes care of our community. They do special orders of whatever you cannot find. They are like family, I consider them great friends and family. Meat is the best!”
Second Harvest Food Bank (Morgan Hill Organization)– Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is a pillar in our community. They work tirelessly to combat hunger serving over 250,000 children, families, and seniors each month throughout Santa Clara & San Mateo Counties in 1,000 different sites. Gavilan College began working as a partner with Second Harvest in 2016 when the food pantry was launched Second Harvest has worked with Gavilan to retrofit our room, provide ongoing training such as food safety & CalFresh application assistance, in addition to delivering the food they stock our pantry with at no cost. Second Harvest staff go above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service, guidance, and support from the Senior Program Manager to the Truck Drivers who deliver food. During COVID-19 Second Harvest lead Gavilan and a number of other partnering agencies to transition services into a drive through distribution with safety protocols, easy and flexible ordering capabilities, and additional training. Second Harvest allows Gavilan College to serve thousands of needy families throughout our service area each year. In Morgan Hill, Second Harvest provides FAMILY HARVEST: Monthly groceries for families with children under 26 living at home at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, BROWN BAG: Bi – Weekly groceries for seniors (60+) and disabled (55+), and a Food Pantry at St. Catherine’s Church serving the community. Especially in these uncertain times, Second Harvest has helped the community to thrive.
Lillian Silva (Gilroy Individual) – Lillian has been serving the community not only for her employer, Youth Alliance, but also all her clients on a personal level. She’s assisted in delivering food, helped with rent assistance applications, school support, internet support and emotional support. She’s been a go to person for all her clients and their families. She gives more than required and never asks for anything in return. She’s an example of kindness, selflessness and change that the world needs at a time like these we are in. She supports at-risk youth with meaningful community activities and takes a real interest in their lives, serving as counselor/mentor/ and support person.
Togo’s (Gilroy Business) – Togo’s Eatery on First Street in Gilroy has supported intercollegiate athletics at Gavilan College as well as other community organizations, including the Miles Brinson Football Camp, Youth Basket ball League, Since 2015, Togo’s has been the title sponsor of the annual Gavilan College Male and Female Student-Athlete of Year Award. This program recognizes student-athletes from each of the sports while in season from August to May with monthly recognition. General Manager Andy Avazin has been generous to the college by providing monthly awards to recipients; providing discounts to the various coaches who have used Togo’s on First Street for their pre/post game team meals; as well as the Department of Kinesiology and Athletics at various functions. Togo’s Eatery on First Street has been a long-time member of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.
Nominations are accepted all year.To submit a nomination for the 2019 Community Spirit Awards, go to: http://www.gavilan.edu/pio/NominationForm.html