Dublin residents who have contributed significantly to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic were celebrated during a virtual ceremony late last month, where Dublin city leaders also announced the 2020 Citizen, Young Citizen and Organization of the Year.
"While the global pandemic caused the cancellation of many traditional events in the past year ... the hard work dedication and kindness of our community volunteers could not be canceled," said Mayor Melissa Hernandez, who gave opening and closing remarks, and presented several awards at the event.
Councilmembers Sherry Hu, Michael McCorriston and Jean Josey also presented awards and gave remarks during the April 28 ceremony, which was originally broadcast live. The ceremony also featured a remote appearance by Vice Mayor Shawn Kumagai, who was off fulfilling his service commitments in the U.S. Navy Reserves, as well as nominees and local volunteer organizations via a Zoom video conference.
Hernandez said the event "may look a little different than in years past, but we cannot let the amazing work of the many volunteers in our community go unnoticed and uncelebrated."
The past year was a time "when our local organizations truly rose up to meet the challenges brought by the pandemic," Hu said. "These groups made certain that students had school supplies, families had the food on the table, and healthcare workers had protective equipment they needed to continue their work in serving lives."
Open Heart Kitchen won the Mayor's Award, which is given to those the mayor believes "have worked tirelessly on behalf of the Dublin community in the past year," according to the city.
In receiving the award, Open Heart Kitchen CEO Heather Greaux said demand for their meal service has intensified since the pandemic and thanked the "dedicated staff and volunteers who have served on the front lines this past year."
"Because of city support and continued donations for local residents, we've been able to meet that increased demand for our services as long as the demand for food exists," Greaux said. "We will continue to help the hardest-hit individuals and families in the Tri-Valley and help them gain stability in their lives."
Connie Mack, recipient of this year's Mayor's Legacy Award, which goes to an individual or group for their "extraordinary, long-term dedication to the Dublin community," thanked the city and said she was "surprised and I'm totally honored, so thank you for even thinking of me."
Dublin's Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year are both nominated for exemplifying the Dublin Integrity In Action's 10 Characteristics; Michael D'Ambrosio is the 2020 Citizen of the Year while Anya Sengupta won the Young Citizen of the Year, which is given to Dublin youths in first through 12th grade for their volunteerism. Each winner's favorite charitable organization will receive a $300 contribution.
"Although this last year was a tough year, it was remarkable to see the Dublin community helping and supporting each other," Sengupta said, and D'Ambrosio thanked the Dublin City Council for the recognition, as well as his loved ones "for supporting my crazy ideas."
"During all of this, many of us have felt alone but when this group was founded, we all became alone together," D'Ambrosio said.
Local youth club Breaking BEARriers, which aims to "bring together their peers ... by building a better community around them" and has continued its programs during the pandemic such as gardening, was named Dublin's 2020 Organization of the Year. The organization also won a $500 cash prize along with the title.
All of the winners will also be recognized at the Dublin City Council meeting next Tuesday (May 18). The Dublin Volunteer Recognition Awards will be rebroadcast on Tri-Valley Community Television (TV30) through the end of May and can also be seen online at tri-valleytv.org.