The Tri-Valley Heroes panel of judges has selected the recipients for the 2019 awards, which are bestowed on residents and organizations who are making contributions to better our communities and their residents.
This is the eighth year the Pleasanton Weekly and its sister publication, DanvilleSanRamon.com, have recognized local heroes through the award program.
"We launched the Tri-Valley Heroes award program eight years ago to acknowledge those individuals and groups that have gone above and beyond for our community and neighbors," said Gina Channell, publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com. "Because they typically stay behind the scenes, these unsung heroes don't receive the recognition they deserve. We are honored that, through our program, more than 50 Tri-Valley Heroes have been publicly thanked for their work and their causes highlighted."
The awards will be presented Oct. 21 at the DoubleTree Hilton, 7050 Johnson Drive in Pleasanton.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the presentations will begin at 6:45 p.m. If you would like to attend to honor a recipient, RSVP at Tinyurl.com/2019HeroesRSVP or email Channell at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name, hometown and email address of the attendee(s).
Sponsors of the 2019 Tri-Valley Heroes program are Monterey Private Wealth, Robert Half, Harrington Art Partnership (Arts & Culture Award), Summit Financial Group, Crown Trophy and DoubleTree Hilton.
This year's recipients are:
Arts and Culture: E. Trent Thompson, Dublin. Artist E. Trent Thompson has an interest in seeing the total person and a heart to help those in need. He used his artistic ability to launch Pictures for People, a project to get to "call attention to the needs of our community through the individuals we walk by every day."
To bring attention and assistance to the homeless in our area, Thompson captured the spirit of six people on the street in personal portraits, then auctioned off the paintings. Close to $8,000 was raised for local charities that help the homeless.
Jeb Bing Community Spirit Award: Gary and Nancy Harrington, Pleasanton. Educators and philanthropists Nancy and Gary Harrington have contributed extensively to public art in Pleasanton for many years and enjoy leading public walks in downtown Pleasanton to view artwork.
The couple initiated a campaign to build a Veterans Memorial at Pleasanton's Pioneer Cemetery, and led fundraising efforts and conceptual planning for the project, which was dedicated in 2016. They are currently working with East Bay Regional Park District to help create an open-air interpretive pavilion at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area, which will allow visitors to learn about the history of the park and the wildlife while walking through the site without a naturalist.
Courage: The Nimmo Family, Pleasanton. Anxiety led to Amador Valley High School freshman Zachary Nimmo's death by suicide late last year. In Zachary's honor, his parents, Mannie and Steve, and sister Samantha created the Z-Cares Foundation to "start the conversation about anxiety and keep it going."
The foundation hosts screenings of the documentary, "Angst," which explores anxiety, its causes, effects and what can be done about it, followed by discussion panels. The family wants to spare others from the pain of losing a loved one by ending "the stigma associated with mental health while creating a shared understanding among teens and adults it is 'OK to not be OK.'"
Environmental Stewardship: Tri-Valley Conservancy, Livermore. For 20 years, Tri-Valley Conservancy has been protecting open space for parks, farms, trails, ranches and wildlife habitat in the Tri-Valley. Through acquisition, public outreach and stewardship programs, the group protects and cares for open space for parks, farms, trails and wildlife habitat in the Tri-Valley.
More than 5,400 acres of land has been protected since the group formed. It also saves wildlife and connects open space through conservation easements or acquisition, like when 74 acres was acquired and added to Sycamore Grove Park in 2014. The park expansion provided a wildlife corridor and public access and trail connections to parks in Del Valle Regional Park and parks in Berkeley, Sunol and Fremont.
Innovation: Darrell Jobe, Livermore. Darrell Jobe believes in second chances for packaging products and for people.
In 2015, Darrell Jobe founded a completely green company in Livermore and hires ex-felons to help them transition back into society. Vericool manufactures 100% recyclable, 100% compostable packing containers made from renewable and post-consumer materials and compostable insulation. Knowing how difficult it is for ex-felons to find employment after being released from jail, Jobe, a former gang member, hires them at Vericool to give them a second chance.
Rising Star: Vidhima Shetty, San Ramon. When Vidhima Shetty was on staff at The Californian, the California High School newspaper, she wrote a story about a Cal High graduate who was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
When the story published in 2016, she received comments from people around the world, thankful someone wrote about the disease that affects 1.5 million to 2 million people in the United States, but is not very well-known. After doing more research and asking medical professionals to look over her findings, she published a 122-page book, "An Adolescent's Guide to ME/CFS." She donates proceeds to the Open Medicine Foundation, which is doing research to find a cure.
Role Model: Dana Dornsife, Danville. Dana Dornsife first became involved in cancer patient advocacy in 2003 when her brother-in-law, Mike Miller, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Dornsife found a clinical trial for Miller that gave the family more time with him. She then founded the nonprofit Lazarex Cancer Foundation in 2006.
The unique mission of Lazarex is to improve access to clinical trials for advanced stage cancer patients and the medically underserved by assistance with costs for FDA clinical trial participation, identification of clinical trial options, community outreach and engagement. Lazarex is the only nonprofit that works on behalf of patients to remove barriers to clinical trials.
Lifetime Achievement: Alex Mehran Sr., San Ramon. Alex Mehran Sr.'s vision and leadership have transformed San Ramon and the Tri-Valley. Sunset Development is environmentally responsible, as evidenced by Bishop Ranch boasting the largest concentration of LEED space outside a major metropolitan area, an award-winning transit program, extensive recycling initiatives, modern systems and green cleaning practices.
Under Mehran's leadership, Sunset created City Center at Bishop Ranch, with shops, dining and entertainment that draws from all over the Tri-Valley. Mehran is also responsible for the Masud and Alex Mehran Foundation, which provides tens of thousands of dollars every year to support education, health and human services organizations.