Meet Gavilan College’s 2020 Community Spirit Award Recipientsby Jan Janes on Dec 10, 2020
For more than 20 years, Gavilan College has honored individuals, organizations and businesses nominated by members of their communities for the Community Spirit Awards.
In years past, honorees gathered at a breakfast in their own communities. COVID protocols prohibited gatherings, so a new plan developed. President/Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Rose, along with local Board of Trustee members, took the presentation of Community Spirit Awards on the road this past month. This year's awards were presented to:
Morgan Hill / San Martin
- Individual - Mike Beasley
- Organization - Second Harvest Silicon Valley
- 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
Read on to discover how their communities speak about the ways they’re special.
Mike Beasley - Morgan Hill/San Martin - Individual
Mike Beasley, center, with plaque, is joined by President/Superintendent Dr. Kathleen
Rose, far left, Gavilan Trustee Rachel Perez, second from right, and members of the
FOCUS Safe Parking Team at the Morgan Hill Bible Church. The location serves as a
transitional car park where people experiencing homelessness can legally park overnight.
The site also offers showers, bathrooms, laundry facilities and other support services.
After retiring from IBM, Beasley chose to apply his business experience to solving problems in the community. A founding board member of the Gilroy Compassion Center in 2011, he has served in multiple positions. He spends hours advocating, researching, team-building, and planning with the Compassion Center. He is dedicated to developing long-term solutions for homelessness and building the team to make it happen. As Board Chair Beasley was instrumental in recruiting and hiring the agency's first paid, fulltime Executive Director.
The Compassion Center partners with the FOCUS Safe Parking program and Morgan Hill Bible Church and the Interfaith Alliance. 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.
Like many people invested in community, Beasley never sought public attention or personal recognition for this work. Beasley’s impact has helped provide housing solutions for homeless people in South County.
Al Bonturi - San Benito County - Individual
Holding his plaque, Al Bonturi is flanked by (left) neighbor Stacey Porteur, Gavilan
College Outreach Coordinator and (right) Dr. Kathleen Rose and Gavilan Trustee Jeanie Wallace.
Born and raised in Hollister, California, Bonturi is the eldest son of an immigrant father from Italy and a mother from California in a large family of six girls and four boys.
A graduate of San Benito High School, Bonturi finished one year at San Benito Junior College. He left school to take over the family farming business after his father passed away. Through the years he has grown apricots, prunes, table grapes and walnuts.
Bonturi has served on the San Benito County Farm Bureau, California Walnut Commission, University of California Cooperative Extension and been a member of the Hollister Elks Lodge for over 75 years. 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, beginning as a boyhood member.
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 the county line. He is a wealth of information and who shares his knowledge and experience with other farmers to help them improve their practices.
Described as "a staple of the San Benito County Farm Bureau," he has served on its board of directors for more than 70 years. Bonturi received statewide recognition when he was presented the 2019 California Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award.
At 95, Bonturi still manages and works his 30 acre ranch in Hollister. He is an integral part of the local farming industry and history, and an outstanding member of the community.
Hollister Community Outreach / Linda and Patrick Lampe - Organization - San Benito County
Linda Lampe, center, with plaque, and her husband Patrick (not pictured) run
the Hollister Community Outreach. Lampe is joined by five of the many volunteers who,
she says, the program could not run without. Also pictured are (left) Jan Bernstein
Chargin, Gavilan Public Information Officer; (third from left) Dr. Kathleen Rose, and
(right) Gavilan Trustee Jeanie Wallace.
The Lampes have been described as "the most compassionate and kind people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting." They sensed the need and began the program in 2004. “We would find tacos, two for a dollar, purchase 100 and hand them out to people,” said Lampe.
And the program grew. They now serve more than 800 families a week, running an operation 24/7/365 that requires big trucks and pallet jacks.
Working with their volunteer crews, the program serves the homeless, started a drop-in center, provide clothing, food and community.
“The only question we ask,” said Lampe, “How many people are in your family?”
Since the pandemic started, they have been making daily deliveries of hot meals to people living in encampments and on the streets, working to maintain good nutrition and share hope during the pandemic.
“Many small businesses have been affected here,” said Lampe. “The need is great, and 40-60% of people in food lines now have never been a food line before.”
The organization relies on donations and on volunteers. Lampe said a big need now is someone to help with social media and website work. More information about Hollister Community Outreach is available on Facebook.
Leadership Gilroy Class of 2020 - Organization – Gilroy
Trustee Rachel Perez (left), and Dr. Kathleen Rose (right) presented the Community
Spirit Award to six members representing Leadership Gilroy Class of 2020: Greg
Troy, Cindi Torres, Jason Velez, Almendra Perez, Noemi Naranjo and Janet Krulee.
The Leadership Gilroy 2020 class started right on schedule in January. They quickly achieved near unanimous agreement on their project during the retreat. Then COVID arrived, shelter in place was imposed, and everything shifted online. The bonding that started during the retreat helped the team keep moving forward with new project ideas, and how to implement them.
This year Leadership Gilroy 2020 built a three-part project called Gilroy cLOVE Days. One member came up with the cLOVE Challenge, which built a social media presence. Individuals and groups ate raw cloves of garlic, posted it on social media, and threw down challenges to others. The class designed and sold cLOVE Days shirts, masks and bells, which were sold locally and across nine states. On the final weekend of July, with the Gilroy Garlic Festival cancelled because of the pandemic, the leaders created a three-day weekend event of virtual activities. Friday hosted cLOVE Community Awareness and cooking demonstrations. Saturday featured the cLOVE Fit Fest, with socially-distanced and virtual yoga, biking and personal runs. On Sunday, Gilroy threw a citywide, street by street, driveway by driveway, socially distanced cLOVE the Block Party. At 5:30 p.m. a 30-second silent moment of unity and reflection was observed, followed by the ringing of hundreds of bells.
From the activities, the class project raised more than $40,000, a record surpassing any project amounts raised by prior classes. All proceeds were donated to specific local charities. The three-day weekend event helped to fill the void of the cancelled festival. The events brought meaning to Gilroy, especially that the people love this town! The impressive Leadership Gilroy Class of 2020 accomplished all of this during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many activities, meetings and classes held remotely.
Pinnacle Farms – San Benito County - Business
Phil Foster, (center), stands in one of Pinnacle Farms’ fields. Joining him are (l-r)
Judy Rodriguez, Gavilan’s Hollister Site Director, Trustee Jeanie Wallace, President/
Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Rose and Public Information Officer Jan Bernstein,
plus the happiest farm dog, Sadie.
Owner Phil Foster and his business, Pinnacle Farms, were nominated for the Community Spirit Award because they have gone the extra mile to extend a helping hand to those in need. They provide vegetables from their farms in Hollister and San Juan Bautista to the San Benito County Foodbank. These donations help feed the San Benito community during these unforeseeable times of the pandemic of COVID-19.
Pinnacle Farms grows certified organic produce and sells at area farmer’s markets, local retail stores, local and national wholesalers.
“Most of the produce grown sells within a 100-mile radius of the farms,” said Foster.
Pinnacle Farms in San Juan Bautista also opened a Farm Stand for people to purchase seasonal organic produce, keeping the business open on Saturdays for community accessibility to food.
“It started with a small loyal group,” said Foster. “Then it just kept growing into a larger and larger group.” The Farm Stand opens at 8:00 a.m. on Saturdays, and many regulars show up earlier than that.
“We appreciate people taking the time to come out,” he said.
Rocca’s Market - Morgan Hill/San Martin - Business
Dr. Kathleen Rose and Trustees Laura Perry and Jonathan Brusco present the Community
Spirit Award to Dan Rocca and Rocca’s Market General Manager Dan Keith.
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 - Morgan Hill - Organization
Trustee Rachel Perez (far left), and Dr. Kathleen Rose, (far right) and the Second
Harvest Silicon Valley team: (l-r) Brittany Cheung, Barbara Callaghan, Sharon Kelleher,
Bruno Pillet and Ozzy Maldonado at the Community Christian Church in Morgan Hill.
The location serves as a weekly drive through food donation site for hundreds of families.
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 worked with the college to retrofit facilities, provide ongoing food safety training and CalFresh application assistance. In addition to delivering the food, they stock our pantry with at no cost. Second Harvest staff provides exceptional customer service, guidance, and support - from the Senior Program Manager to the Truck Drivers who deliver food.
During COVID-19 Second Harvest helped Gavilan and a number of other partnering agencies transition into a drive through distribution service, 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 Silva, center, is joined by family, Hollister Youth colleagues and participants,
and Dr. Kathleen Rose in the doorway, after receiving her Community Spirit Award.
Lillian Silva has been serving the community not only for her employer, Youth Alliance in downtown Gilroy, but also all her clients on a personal level. She has 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.
As a case manager, Silva has been working with Youth Alliance for 10 years. “Usually I facilitate character building groups in schools,” she said. “Now, with the pandemic, we have virtual groups at Brownell, Gilroy High School, Mount Madonna and Britton.”
She's an example of kindness, selflessness and change that the world needs at times like 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.
“I love what I do,” said Silva. “Helping is in my blood, and it makes me happy seeing the students grow.”
Togo’s on First Street, Gilroy - Business
Trustee Rachel Perez (left) and Dr. Kathleen Rose (right) chat with Community
Spirit recipients Togo’s General Manager Andy Avazin, Owner Allen Zal and
Franchise Consultant Joe Rocca after the presentation of the award.
Togo's Eatery on First Street in Gilroy has supported Gavilan College intercollegiate athletics as well as other community organizations, including the Miles Brinson Football Camp and Youth Basketball League. General Manager Avazin, hearing Dr. Rose’s remark about the generosity of Togo’s, responded, “Come often, and thank the staff who make your meals and make all this happen.”
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 Avazin and Togo’s has been generous to the college in many ways:
- Providing monthly awards to recipients
- Providing discounts to coaches who use Togo's on First Street for their pre/post game team meals
- Providing discounts to the Department of Kinesiology and Athletics at their functions.
Togo's Eatery on First Street has been a long-time member of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.
Two decades’ of Community Spirit Award recipients can be viewed on the Gavilan College website.
A form for 2021 Community Spirit Award nominations is available. Nominations are accepted at any time during the year.