Super Volunteer Awarded ‘Woman of the Year’; Send Us Your ‘Person of the Year’

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From left to right: Cupertino Mayor Orrin Mahoney, Bev Lenihan, Assemblymember Paul Fong.

I knew Bev Lenihan was a busy volunteer, but I didn’t know just how busy until she was awarded—and rightfully so—”Woman of the Year” for the City of Cupertino by Assemblyman Paul Fong last week.

She was surprised by Fong at the Cupertino Quinlan Community Center with a bouquet of roses and the news that he had chosen her for the honor, thanks to a nomination by Mayor Orrin Mahoney.

You can read all about Lenihan and the amazing number of community groups she is helping in this great story on Cupertino Patch (just scroll down past the subscription form).

One group Lenihan serves as a board member for is the Faith in Action Silicon Valley Rotating Shelter, which I profiled on Good Neighbor Stories last year.

Congratulations, Bev!

Send Us Your Woman/Man/Volunteer of the Year News

I am always interested in featuring news of outstanding citizens, so if your group or community is honoring someone for their service, please send me the information, along with photos, if possible.

And if you know of anyone who receives such an honor, and you’d like to see them get noticed on this site, please send along any links and contact information. Thank you!

 

 

‘Optimistic Explorer’ Leads Service Trips to Make the World a Better Place

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Alisa Matsuzaki with a rainbow created by children at the Hogar Cristiano Orphanage in Costa Rica. Photo by Matthew Borror.

Alisa Kumiko Matsuzaki is a world explorer searching for more than just exotic destinations. She’s searching for hope, optimism, and new ways to make the world a better place. And everyone is invited to join her.

The San Jose freelance web designer is pursuing her passions of volunteer service, cultural exchange, and travel, through organizing service trips to foreign countries, as well as here in the U.S.

Although a number of her trips are done in conjunction with larger nonprofits—she’s leading a trip in April to volunteer with an organization in New Orleans—she recently returned from a Costa Rican service trip she organized with the help of friends. [Read more…]

‘It’s Up to Us’: More Ways We Can Help Our Community

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Santa-Clara-County-Assessment-Carole-Leigh-Hutton-United-Way-Silicon-ValleyYesterday I shared the list from last fall’s Santa Clara County Assessment Project. It has excellent suggestions for how we can all improve our neighborhoods. Today’s list casts the net a little wider to the community.

I love the very first suggestion to “experience our rich cultural diversity”. That’s the reason I feature cultural festivals in my “Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor” column at the start of each month. The more we know about our neighbors and their backgrounds, the more appreciative of each other and closer-knit we become.

Another favorite of mine suggests attending a school board meeting or city council meeting. This I think everyone should do at least once, and maybe even once a year minimum. Not only is it a good education for you as a citizen, giving you a better understanding how your local government works, but it also serves to keep public officials in check. [Read more…]

‘It’s Up to Us’: How We Can All Make a Difference

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Santa-Clara-County-Assessment-Carole-Leigh-Hutton-United-Way-Silicon-ValleyIf real and lasting change is going to happen for Silicon Valley residents, it’s going to have to come from them. That was one of the conclusions drawn from the 2012 Santa Clara County Assessment Project.

One of the phrases interviewers heard from residents surveyed last fall was, “It’s up to us.” The residents knew that in order to create a more cohesive community where those who are struggling are helped, the residents themselves were going to have to be more involved. They are no longer looking to government and institutions to do the job for them.

Yesterday I applauded United Way Silicon Valley President and CEO Carole Leigh Hutton for outlining in the Mercury News how her organization is going to change its focus toward fostering more community involvement.

Today I’m sharing the first part of the excellent action list that was included in the executive summary of the assessment. Tomorrow I’ll share the second part. To see the full list, including what institutions and policy makers can do, go to the United Way website page about the project, and click on the picture of the report.

What You Can Do
Around Your Home

  • Interact with your neighbors. Share fruits, vegetables or baked goods from your home. Make a point to welcome new residents. Invite your neighbors to join you in a walking group.
  • Say “hello” to young people in your neighborhood. Get to know them by name. Ask them for help with yard work or bringing in trash cans when you’re away. For very young children, keep chalk handy near your front yard and offer it for sidewalk art.
  •  Keep your front yard tidy. A clean appearance is inviting to neighbors and promotes community pride. [Read more…]

‘It’s Up to Us’ to Create Postive Change in Silicon Valley

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Santa-Clara-County-Assessment-Carole-Leigh-Hutton-United-Way-Silicon-ValleyThree cheers to Carole Leigh Hutton, president and CEO of United Way Silicon Valley, for the new focus of her organization on helping community members “actively engage in improving their lives.”

In a commentary published in Monday’s print edition of the Mercury News, Hutton outlined results from the 2012 Santa Clara County Community Assessment, which concluded in part that positive change in the lives of county residents must come from the residents themselves.

“There is little trust in institutions—government, nonprofits, faith-based—to solve community challenges. There is a strong sense that only residents themselves can create change,” she wrote.

In an executive summary of the report, one phrase heard from residents stood out: “It’s up to us.” [Read more…]

Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in March

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By SMcGarnigle on Flickr

Amidst the “special” days of March, there’s “Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day” (March 1), “Popcorn Lovers’ Day” (same day as “National Pi Day”, March 14), and, I kid you not, “Extraterrestrial Abductions Day” (March 20). I could go on, March has a lot of wacky days (“Everything You Think is Wrong Day” on March 15, anyone?).

Here at Good Neighbor Stories, I like to share five ways you can contribute to the local community each month. Here are the suggestions for March.

1) Catch Some Luck of the Irish: March is National Irish-American Heritage Month, designated by Congress starting in 1995. With more than 1 million people of Irish descent in the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s a lot of celebrating going on, and not just on St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, the 17th. Starting on Saturday, March 9, and going all the way to April 26, it’s the 10th anniversary of the Crossroads Irish-American Festival in San Francisco. The festival, “promotes the discovery and understanding of the Irish experience in the Americas to ensure that the richness of the arts, culture, history and traditions of this heritage are both held in great esteem and preserved for [Read more…]