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headline- 2013 Jefferson Awards Honorees for “Excellence in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement”

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 2013 Jefferson Awards Honorees for
“Excellence in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement”

By Peter Rumble

On Tuesday, November 5, the County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors will present the prestigious Jefferson Award to four local nonprofit organizations and one individual for their Excellence in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement.

“Each year, we have the opportunity to recognize organizations and individuals who have a deep and meaningful impact on our community,” remarked Board of Supervisors Chair, David Rabbitt. “The Jefferson Award is a special recognition and our honorees highly deserving, each devoting their passion and energy to empowering individuals, communities and protecting the health of our communities and environment. 

Founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, US Senator Robert Taft, Jr., and Sam Beard, staff to Robert Kennedy, the Jefferson Awards Program is designed to highlight public service in America. Each year the Board of Supervisors selects five Jefferson Awards honorees. This year there were 29 well-qualified exceptional individuals and non-profits who were nominated, with the following 2013 award recipients. 

Jesús Guzmàn, for his leadership and commitment to the laborers, immigrants and youth of Sonoma County. He co-founded the local chapter of the DREAM Alliance, and along with his work at the Graton Day Labor Center, has mobilized members of the community to advocate for immigration reform, fair labor practices and safe working conditions. Jesùs learned, at a young age, that through partnerships, community building, and empowerment, families can be kept united, productive, and safe. 2013 Jefferson Awards Honorees for “Excellence in Community Leadership and Civic Engagement”

La Luz Center, since 1990 has served to empower communities through education, leadership, and self-advocacy. Collaboration has been essential to the success of La Luz’s programs and ability to serve the growing need for services in the Sonoma Valley, a culturally competent bilingual setting. The Center is an invaluable resource serving as a bridge to increase cross-cultural acceptance and respect for all the citizens of Sonoma Valley. Over the past year, they have distributed food to more than 7,000 families, enrolled 300 families in CalFresh, provided no-cost healthcare to 1,320 children and 840 adults, and served more than 500 adults through their many education programs.

Northern California Center for Well-Being, has served the entire county of Sonoma since 1996, by assisting people with chronic diseases which include diabetes, heart disease, arthritis; and their related risk factors including obesity, high cholesterol, and a sedentary lifestyle. The Center has helped over 25,000 families take positives steps to improve their health and “promote the well-being of the whole person by empowering people with the knowledge, skills, and spirit to take responsibility for personal, family, and community health.”

Russian Riverkeeper, was founded in 1993 to protect and preserve the Russian River for future generations by advocating, educating, and implementing sustainable community solutions. A strong advocate for the river, Russian Riverkeeper has taken legal action when necessary to protect the river, and inspired volunteers and other investments, recognizing its direct relation to an investment in the community’s health. Russian Riverkeeper holds a critical role in increasing awareness of the River and in making a difference to be able to enjoy a healthy river for today and future generations.

Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, have been spreading joy and good will through community events, charitable acts and fundraising, with a focus on the special needs of the Russian River area since 2001. The Sisters are completely unique and absolutely stunning in their appearance, their impact, and their diversity. Their compassion and positive impact is profound and their work takes on various forms, from their educating the community on the HIV/AIDS crisis, to their bingo fundraisers and giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars in charity and scholarships. Their work in the community is impressive and their hearts reach all areas of the Russian River, including health services, seniors, and music programs for children, and more.

The County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors values the many strong partnerships the County has with the local non-profit community.  These relationships serve to leverage precious resources to provide the utmost in quality services to the community.  The Board is proud to sponsor the Jefferson Awards, fostering the partnerships that build more collaborative opportunities which benefit all of Sonoma County.