The Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative honored the work of three Tri-Valley individuals who embody the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during Monday morning's 23rd annual Fellowship Breakfast that recognizes the late American civil rights icon.
The 2023 Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award winners were Kelly O'Lague, outgoing president of the Community of Character Collaborative; Ronnie Forbes, founder of One Nation Dream Makers; and Matt Troiano, co-founder of the annual Tri-Valley Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
The theme for this year's event and keynote speech was inspired from the King quote, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Monday morning marked the first time the collaborative was able to hold the event back in person after two years of holding it online due to the pandemic.
William Nelson, Pleasanton Unified School District's assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, delivered the keynote address at the event, which was held at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.
Nelson is in his first year working in Pleasanton after a 25-year background in teaching, being a principal and serving as the senior district administrator for schools in Modesto City.
O'Lague, one of the three Legacy Award recipients, has been a longtime champion in work surrounding child and family support programs stemming from her time at the Tri-Valley YMCA in the mid-2000s.
She was also one of the founding board members of the Community of Character Collaborative, and in 2009, she was asked to serve as the president of the board where she led fundraising and planning efforts for several events.
She also served as CEO of the Pleasanton-based child and family support nonprofit, Hively, until her tenure ended last year. She recently accepted a new role as CEO of the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, an organization in Portland, Ore.
"Her passion for helping every child thrive was very much aligned with the work begun by long-time community leader, Juanita Haugen to support and implement good character traits in every aspect of community life," according to the press release.
After years of living on the streets and in different jail cells, military veteran Forbes decided one day that he was going to change his life around by helping feed other homeless people in the Tri-Valley.
According to the press release, Forbes was recognized at Monday's Fellowship Breakfast for his work at One Nation Dream Makers, a nonprofit that focuses on mitigating food insecurity and helping those most in need.
"During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, One Nation Dream Makers hit a record of 1,700 boxes of food delivered each week," according to the press release. "Each one of these boxes feeds a family of four for a week. This means One Nation Dream Makers was able to feed over 6,800 people a week during the height of the pandemic."
Forbes is also the president of the Livermore Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7265 and was most recently involved in opening a warming center in Livermore for unsheltered people looking to escape the cold.
Former Dublin Citizen of the Year in 2009, Troiano is the co-founder of the annual Tri-Valley Community Thanksgiving Dinner held at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Dublin, where hundreds of people in need receive warm Thanksgiving meals.
A little League baseball, pop warner football and youth soccer coach, Troiano is no stranger to serving the community as he has helped veterans by volunteering at the Livermore Veterans Hospital.
He also supported the Livermore Homeless Refuge with clothing drives, bag lunches and cooked meals.
Troiano has previously supported the Community of Character Collaborative through his involvement with the special olympics event as a basketball and track coach and by serving on the Special Olympics State Committee for two years.
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