Long-time resident and businessman Tom Daggett has received the Mayor's Award for meritorious service to Pleasanton.
The award was presented by Mayor Jennifer Hosterman at an outdoor celebration held at the Callippe Preserve golf course.
Daggett, whose son is in the Marines, was honored for bringing the coveted Sentinels program to Pleasanton, which hosts seriously wounded veterans and helps in their rehabilitation to normal, productive lives.
More than 200 volunteers and their guests attended the outdoor event, which was hosted by Mayor Jennifer Hosterman. They included members of the City Council and commissions and committees that serve in an advisory role to the council, former mayors and council members.
"This evening is special to me," Hosterman said. "It is my opportunity to thank you for the contributions you've made to our community. Regardless of our differences and personal persuasions, our efforts and those of our predecessors have produced a community of which we can all be proud."
"Each year, it is my distinct pleasure to present an award to a member of our community whose efforts are so outstanding that they warrant special recognition," Hosterman said in announcing the Mayor's Award to Daggett. "This year's recipient represents all that is right about Pleasanton."
She said Daggett "has rallied the community in a way that sets an example for all of us and answers the question, 'What can one person do?'"
Daggett, she said, brought the Sentinels of Freedom scholarship program to Pleasanton, and the team he has assembled "seek to help severely wounded service men and women to become self-sufficient by providing support in returning to school, finding and maintaining employment and obtaining housing."
"This takes a true commitment of time and dedication to rally the necessary support of a community toward these goals," she added.
Through Daggett's efforts and the help of many colleagues, the city of Pleasanton "adopted" Jay Wilkerson as its first Sentinel last year. Wilkerson, severely wounded in Iraq by two rocket propelled grenades, returned to the U.S. unable to walk or speak.
Now, through the program that is designed for severely wounded veterans like Wilkerson, supporters of the Pleasanton Sentinels have given Wilkerson a four-year "life scholarship," which is bridging the gap of funds and services that the government cannot provide.
"The Sentinels founders saw the need and answered the call," said Daggett. "They knew that with the war in Iraq and now Afghanistan, our country would unfortunately see many more men and women return with injuries that would be sustainable but life altering. They also determined that the government could not pay for all the necessary medical and local support that the veterans would need to become self-sufficient."
The Sentinels' team has already helped to furnish Wilkerson's apartment in the Promenade on Case Avenue. Daggett and the Sentinels found him a car and the city has provided him with a temporary job in its sign-making department until he is able to find permanent employment, again through the Sentinels. Next month, Wilkerson will resume his college education that service in Iraq interrupted, attending classes at Las Positas College as part of the Sentinels' scholarship program.
Daggett, a Pleasanton resident since 1980 and father of a Marine, is president of the Pleasanton team that is assisting Wilkerson throughout the program. Other members of the Pleasanton team include Councilman Jerry Thorne, the Pleasanton Military Families organization and other business people.
Thanking Hosterman for the award, Daggett told those at the Callippe celebration that everyone in Pleasanton should be proud that their community rallied to support Wilkerson and the Sentinels program to help wounded warriors.
"We just have so many fantastic people in this community," Daggett said. "I have said it before, these are young men and women who have given everything they've got. A city like this with so much compassion should have even more Sentinels to welcome."