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2020 Awards for Exemplary Service During the Pandemic

This year has been challenging for many of us but we could not have gotten through this year without each other. Thank you to the many individuals and organizations who provided support and resources to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congratulations to the recipients of the Supervisor's Medal for Outstanding Service and the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Service Medal. You can watch the medal ceremony here: https://youtu.be/zQ4j8KubZqg

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Supervisor's Medal for Outstanding Service during the #COVID19 pandemic

First up is a duo from the San José Unified School District coordinating meals for families within Santa Clara County. Led by Director Janet Wolk, San José Unified’s Student Nutrition Services team began planning for changes to meal service immediately when schools closed in March. Assistant Manager Stephanie Acosta led the SJUSD culinary team in the kitchen, planned meal production, and coordinated with other San José Unified departments to distribute meals to grab-and-go locations. Their team has provided more than 1,000,000 meals during the course of the pandemic.

When the Campbell Union School District shared their need for assistance to distribute meals to families, The Home Church, led by Senior Pastor Hector Moreno, responded immediately. Volunteers from The Home Church provide 150 Campbell Union School District families with a bag of groceries every week.

Corin McCoy has been The Health Trust’s go-to guy on the ground overseeing daily Meals on Wheels operations in Santa Clara County each month to homebound, medically vulnerable residents. The number of meals Corin and his team delivered grew from 8,410 in February to almost 47,798 in May.

From Spring to Fall, Melissa Rhyne’s out-of-the-box support and innovative leadership provided direct family financial support, free face masks through “Masks for Moreland,” and recess equipment for the newly opened Satellite Programs.

Keri Billings, Principal of Country Lane Elementary School, and Gizzele Linayao, Extended Care Site Supervisor of Country Lane Elementary School, partnered together to create a new tutoring program that initially provided academic support to approximately 20 at-risk Kindergarten -5th-grade students who were struggling in distance learning. The program was duplicated at several other schools within the District and now benefits hundreds of students and families.

As the only Valley Medical Foundation staff person to maintain an in-office work schedule through 2020, Gail Cuevas has been instrumental to the daily operations of the VMC Foundation to coordinate and receive donations for frontline workers.

Susy Cortez connects Santa Clara Unified parents to food pantries near their homes so that they don't have to get themselves to a school site -- often by foot -- to receive groceries. She has helped other community organizations continue support programs that provide new shoes and holiday gifts through the District’s Family Resource Center. This year 300 children were able to receive new shoes, and another 400 are slated for holiday gifts.

When the Luther Burbank School closed earlier this year due to the pandemic, Kellie Butner recruited volunteers to ensure access to meals would continue uninterrupted. She leads a team to pack and distribute meals for families, adapting to a variety of needs and schedules.

Mercedes Navarro has continued to offer high-impact literacy and cultural programs to the community through the Bascom Branch Library in partnership with the Sherman Oaks Family Resource Center.

Since July, Crystal Haney has been a full-time Disaster Service Worker serving across the County of Santa Clara COVID-19 Testing Sites. Currently serving as a Non-Clinical Site Lead, Crystal has been on the frontlines ensuring the patient intake process is smooth and seamless. Crystal’s daily work ranges from maintaining the safety and hygiene of all the materials patients come in contact with to directing the hundreds of daily community visitors at the testing sites.

As a frontline worker, Kilani Louis not only leads the non-clinical operations when residents visit one of many testing sites, but they talk many residents through the logistical process of COVID-19 testing in detail, elevating the testing experience to one of comfort and wellness for all that visit.

Trudy Grable adjusted Parents Helping Parents’ BFF Program, which provides an opportunity to increase the social pool for adults with autism and developmental disabilities in a relaxed, person-centered, and non-stressful manner. The program changed from a monthly in-person check-in to a weekly Zoom check-in which has served to significantly increase attendance.

Patrick Hammon is the co-founder of Team Midnight Munchies, which provides meals to hospital employees during night shifts. They have provided middle of the night meals, in partnership with community donations and local businesses, to O’Conner and St. Louise hospitals, and to firefighters during wildfires.

Maria Ines Ortega Barrera continues to represent and advocate for a safe Cadillac-Winchester neighborhood as the president of the Cadillac-Winchester Neighborhood Association despite COVID-19 limitations and language challenges. As co-treasurer of the Cadillac-Winchester Neighborhood Association, Carlos Cornejo provided support to the association as they pivoted from in-person meetings to Zoom meetings and continues to organize the community to advocate for resources.

Thomas B. Holden Jr. started Willow Glen’s Holden’s Heroes, a group of volunteers who clean up trash in the community and public right of ways. Rebecca Schetter was one of the first volunteers with Willow Glen’s Holden’s Heroes and has been a consistent force as a volunteer and site captain.

Monica Mallon has advocated virtually to preserve and expand accessible public transit in Santa Clara County to residents who rely on public transportation. She is the founder of Turnout4Transit and an active voice in the Cambrian community. 

Isha Chander leads the Branham-Kirk Neighborhood Association and has supported her peers’ advocacy on youth mental health and suicide prevention. She also organizes teens locally to advocate for the decriminalization of youth. 

Aaryan Gautam, Isha Singh, Sahana Gautam, Shivank Dagar, and Natasha Chinnagiri are youth volunteers for Joy of Sewa and the Santa Clara Community Coalition. They take turns reading and talking families through at-home activities on Joy of Sewa’s Facebook Live.

Harbir Bhatia is an advisor for Joy of Sewa and the founder of the Santa Clara Community Coalition, community groups providing support to neighbors in Santa Clara through online family programming initiatives. Jaya Gautam joined Harbir on the Santa Clara Community Coalition by running the daily story time along with her own children. Jaya helps run the second online programming initiative, Delicious Dishes with Kids, a weekly cooking show that parents can watch and participate with their children at home.

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Santa Clara County COVID-19 Service Metal Awards

H.E.R.O. Tent, founded by Gen Z’er Kiana Simmons, has fed more 12,000 people through its Feed the Block program which serves on average 800 people a week with help from community donations.

LaBarre Studios focused on its members' health and wellbeing and that meant being nimble and flexible to adapt to the rapidly changing business landscape, but also being mindful that all is done with safety and health at the forefront. They provided online virtual, livestream and on-demand classes, outdoor offerings, open-air instruction & wellness services to stay connected to the community. 

The YMCA of Silicon Valley stepped up to provide a safe and secure place for children to receive quality childcare while their essential working parents and guardians cared for our community. 

The Bill Wilson Center pivoted quickly to new models to provide resources to youth and families in need. 

Momentum for Health pivoted to telehealth service for individuals struggling with mental health issues that were exacerbated by COVID-19 and our extended shelter in place orders. 

The College of Adaptive Arts has maintained its connection to students who had a difficult time adapting to a new routine and learning environment. 

Silicon Valley Pride pivoted from an annual Pride Parade to a virtually vibrant celebration for the residents. It was inviting, inclusive, and so much fun. You can watch Pride 2020 here: https://youtu.be/wauAsE05i1o

Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center kept LGBTQ+ Resources accessible and active virtually, along with safe activities for seniors, and young people. 

Faith congregations, nonprofits and community-based organizations were also named as recipients of the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Service Medal.

On October 17 and 18 the WestGate Church congregation participated in Beautiful Day projects across the County. 1300 volunteers worked on more than 21 projects to beautify neighborhoods and public spaces. You can see what the day of community service looked like by visiting https://youtu.be/s88gWDiOvCc

In partnership with Convoy of Hope, members of Bethel Church bagged and distributed 5,025 bags of groceries to families in need. 

The Downtown Campbell Parklet Program was created to offer business assistance to merchants who had limited ability to expand outdoor operations given the area’s physical constraints. 

The City of Santa Clara relaunched the Help Your Neighbor Program, which allows the community to help their neighbors who are struggling to pay their utility bills. As of Dec. 2, the City collected donations totaling $14,955.

The Santa Clara City Library made their branch libraries available as COVID-19 testing sites for residents from July through November, allowing more than 6,700 people to receive COVID-19 tests.
Last updated: 1/22/2021 3:14 PM