Good feelings filled the Veterans Memorial Building last Thursday as people gathered to support the values promoted by longtime school board member Juanita Haugen, who died in 2007 after a two-year fight against cancer.
The seventh annual Community of Character Luncheon and Awards Ceremony celebrated Pleasanton residents who practice the group's heralded traits: responsibility, compassion, self-discipline, honesty, respect and integrity. The program was founded in 2002 under the direction of Haugen and is supported by the city, the school district, the Chamber of Commerce and service and faith groups.
The awards ceremony, emceed by board member Kelly O'Lague Dulka, began with a musical performance by Don Lewis of "The Power of a Dream" as a tribute to community activist Jack Dove, who died April 24.
This year's award recipients were Tom Fox, Jim Ott, Pam Yeaw and the Rotary Club of Pleasanton.
"The value of a true leader is someone who gives and not takes," said former award-winner Robert Shapiro when introducing Fox. "That's what Juanita was noticing when she left us the legacy she did."
"Tom's motto in Rotary is 'Do good and have fun,'" Shapiro added.
Fox spoke briefly, noting he moved to Pleasanton in 1970.
"There is not a better place to live. It's full of people with good character that are willing to help," he said.
City Councilman Jerry Pentin introduced former banker and poet laureate Ott, saying they've worked together on community projects for many years and he's always regarded Ott as an elder statesman since he is three weeks older than himself.
"We're all blessed to be in this community," said Ott, who now is an English professor at Las Positas College.
Police Capt. Eric Finn introduced Yeaw, a longtime volunteer with the Pleasanton Police Department.
"The Juanita Haugen Community of Character award is really a lifetime achievement award," Finn said. "Each recipient has a rich history of making their mark in our little corner of the world."
He went on to laud Yeaw's thousands of hours volunteering with the Police Department.
"She's truly an ambassador for our organization," Finn said.
Mayor Jerry Thorne introduced Rotary president Julie Lewis to accept its award.
"Rotary was responsible for many of the amenities we have in our community today," Thorne said. "If you've found shade at the Sports Park, it's because they planted trees."
He went on to list scholarships, holiday dinners, helping seniors with cleaning, distributing wheelchairs to those in need and more.
"It sounds very much like a Community of Character to me," Thorne said.
Rotary District 5170 Gov. Joe Hamilton also acknowledged the award and said he had been an educator and had known Juanita Haugen.
PUSD Senior Director of Pupil Services Kevin Johnson was the last speaker, asking for donations to the Juanita Haugen Scholarship Fund.
"As far as I'm concerned she beat cancer because her spirit and character live on in this community," Johnson said.