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Los Altos' Indefatigable Volunteers

National Volunteer Week was an occasion to recognize the veritable army of volunteers who help make Los Altos hum. The Phyllis Semple Award, named for the city's legendary volunteer, was given to Joanna Price.

 

The following was contributed by Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Weiss, and contains her remarks and that of Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw at the Volunteer Appreciation Reception

For the 39th Annual National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and the city of Los Altos threw a big reception April 26 for its all its volunteers, from the people who answer the phones at City Hall to the ladies (and occasional man) who make monkey toys for Stanford's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

Jarrett Fishpaw noted that almost 15,000 volunteer hours were given to the City of Los Altos in 2012. Of the city's 195 volunteers, 91 are commissioners and committee members on the city's 11 commissions and one committee, serving four year terms.

Fishpaw listed some of the other positions held including: Senior Center and City Hall front desk staff, technology tutors, chefs and luncheon assistants, in-home repair technicians, city vehicle maintainers, engineering assistants, art teachers, group discussion mediators, trip escorts, interview panelist, parking hearing examiners, Monkey Toy Makers, and City TV channel programmer.

He recognized the following commissioners completing their terms: Linda DeMichiel, Environmental Commission; Greg Loney, Historical Commission; Lenelle Smith, Library Commission; Nancy Tucker, Library Commission; Maria Bautista, Parks and Recreation Commission; Karen Greguras, Parks and Recreation Commission; Shannon Kilgore, Parks and Recreation Commission; Michael Shafran, Public Arts Commission; Tanya DeMare, Senior Commission; Bill Palmer, Senior Commission; Claire Johnson, Youth Commission; Kyle Walden, Youth Commission. 

Three more "extra special" volunteers were recognized. Jennifer Weiss described their service: 

Last month two of our volunteers were given awards by the  professional organization California Parks and Recreation Society (CPRS). These awards were given for the outstanding contributions that they have made to our communityover the years. If I could please invite Pat Scheid and Laverne Uribe up to the front to stand with our mayor?

Pat Schied attended the CPRS event that night and received her award for helping in every capacity at our senior center, from trip escort, meal support, front desk assistance, and event facilitator. Pat even goes above and beyond to create homemade decorations, favors and centerpieces to give our events that special "Pat touch."

The other award winner that night was Laverne Uribe. She was unable to attend the event and we would like to present that award to her tonight. Laverne has volunteered with the senior center for over 17 years. She also has been involved with every facet of the center from preparing meals, front desk, bingo caller and movie host. Laverne has exemplified the value of greeting and getting to know our participants and the impact she has had on our participants can be felt throughout the community. If we could all please applaud Pat and Laverne for all they have done.

For our final award of the night I would like to present the Phyllis Semple Award. As some of you may know Phyllis Semple, the heart of Los Altos volunterism passed away suddenly in 2011, and she will never be replaced, but her impact on this community will always be felt.

In Phyllis’ honor we have created an annual volunteer of the year award, which will be simply known as the Phyllis Semple Award. The recipient of this award has been chosen by a selected committee that reviewed nominations made by staff and peers.

This year's Phyllis Semple award winner has been with the city of Los Altos for over 5 years. She works full time but wanted to find a way to give back to her community, and boy, has she given back!

Joanna has taken on the role as our senior center monthly chef. She is always very aware of our budget restraints and even prides herself on being under budget! Joanna spends countless hours looking for deals, planning menus and traveling to various stores to get the best price and quality products. One of the greatest things about Joanna is the love she put into these lunches! She makes everything from scratch, and is always willing to try new recipes to bring in more attendees.

Most recently Joanna has taken on the huge undertaking of both our Thanksgiving and Holiday Luncheons that serve up to 90 people each event! These require complex timing and help which she plans out to thelast detail. Somehow she pulls together cooking 4-6 turkeys with two ovens and with four other courses to make a feast that leaves everyone wanting more, and eagerly anticipating her next meal.

Compliments to the chef are common, but some even say that her meal is the only Thanksgiving feast they will have, for they have no other plans.

Joanna even recruits her own help in the kitchen, and for several years now has found entertainment to perform for free, or nominal fee, to accompany many of hermeals. Joanna has even been known to bring seniors that do not have other transportation to the lunches or deliver meals afterwards. Joanna works full-time but always makes time to support the senior center.

With a heart of gold, she is one of the most generous and loving people I know. I can not think of a more well-deservingperson for this honor!

The 2012 Phyllis Semple award is presented to Joanna Price.

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