Chris Miller and Joyce and Bob Shapiro have been named the 2020 Ed Kinney Community Patriots for their dedication to making the world -- and specifically Pleasanton -- a better place.
"As Margaret Meade famously said, 'Never doubt that a small group of citizens can change the world ... it's the only thing that ever has,'" noted award founder W. Ron Sutton. "And this year's award recipients have worked to make our part of the world a better place."
The award, sponsored by the nonprofit group Make A Difference, Today & Always, is named in memory of former mayor Ed Kinney to honor those whose exemplify love, pride and devotion to the community.
This is the 15th year for awards to be presented, and 38 individuals have been recipients.
They usually are honored at a reception at Museum on Main, but this year plans are on hold.
Miller flew helicopters during the Vietnam War, returning to work as a commercial airline pilot and live in San Francisco. Reflecting on how unwelcome he and other returning service members were made to feel, Miller pledged that in the case of future wars, he would work to provide a proper greeting home for veterans.
Chris and his wife Marty settled in Pleasanton in 1971 where they raised three sons and he began many years of serving the community, with kids sports, in Pleasanton Rotary, farmers' market and as a key fundraiser for the Veterans Memorial at Pioneer Cemetery.
When the U.S. military shipped out for the Gulf War in 1990, Miller remembered his promise and, along with Alice Johnston, created a support group for the Pleasanton families of soldiers. In 2003, with the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he again worked to provide a support system, which evolved into the Pleasanton Military Families, known for sending care packages to troops overseas.
Miller was instrumental in the first "Welcome Home Military Parade" in Hacienda Business Park, and in establishing the motorcycle convoys that greeted returning Pleasanton military personnel with flags waving, music playing, horns honking and family, friends and residents gathered to say, "Thank you for your service."
He also worked for years on the Yellow Banner project on Main Street that reminds residents of those serving in the military. He has delivered the banners to families of soldiers no longer in combat.
Joyce and Bob Shapiro
Joyce quickly became involved in the community after moving to Pleasanton in 1966. She owned the Gingham Corner on Main and Neal streets for 10 years and helped form the Downtown Committee and the Pleasanton Downtown Design Guidelines and Sign Ordinance. She also initiated the Pleasanton Downtown Assessment District and served as its first president.
Joyce represented Pleasanton on the Alameda County National Bicentennial Commission in 1976, and was president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1978. That year, she was also the city's first woman planning commissioner and served until 1986, including when the Hacienda Business Park was approved. She became president of the California Downtown Association in 1982.
She has organized many fundraising events for key city developments, including the first senior buses, the new Senior Center, and the Firehouse Arts Center. She was a board member and fundraising chair for the Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley; was judged best Overall CEO at the Valley Volunteer Center CEO dinner in 1992; and in 2004, she headed the committee for "The Great Race." In 2005, Joyce Shapiro graduated from the Pleasanton Leadership program, which she managed for 10 years.
Joyce met Bob on a Mediterranean cruise in 1991, they were married back east, and moved to Pleasanton in 1999 where they quickly became involved in the community as a duo.
Bob Shapiro has been a director of the Chamber of Commerce for two terms, served on the YMCA board of directors, and is on the Las Positas College Foundation and is a major fundraiser for both organizations. He has been an active Rotarian for 18 years, and they are both Paul Harris Fellows.
Bob has been chairman of the board of ValleyCare Charitable Foundation since May 2014; Joyce was co-chair from May 2014-17 but became a vice-chair in October 2017. Bob says this has been his favorite activity in Pleasanton.
Individually and together, the Shapiros have won almost every award given in the city.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the timeframes Joyce Shapiro served on the boards of Senior Support Program of the Tri-Valley and the ValleyCare Charitable Foundation. The Pleasanton Weekly regrets the error.