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Volunteers Honored For Community Service

Sonora, CA — The work of volunteers doesn’t go unnoticed.


A group of community members were recognized for their efforts at the 10th annual “Volunteers are the Heart of Tuolumne County” awards luncheon. The event is put on every year by Sierra Non-Profit Services, and was held recently at the Sonora Elks Lodge.


The winners of five awards receive $500 that they can donate to a non-profit organization of their choice. The Lifetime Achievement Award winner receives $1,000 to donate. The information about the winners listed below was provided by Sierra Non-Profit Services:


The Extra Mile Award.


It honors a volunteer who has gone above & beyond for a community organization and has changed lives with their service.


Ed Lair–Winner

Ed Lair has been a dedicated volunteer with the 7th Day Adventist Church Community Services Center in Sonora for 15 years. Using his own truck, he gives at least two days per month as a volunteer driver. He makes regular pick-ups and deliveries at the Jamestown Food Bank, and regularly delivers food, furniture, household goods and other items to neighbors in need.



The Ed Minium Legacy Award


It is named in honor of this event’s founder. This award honors an individual or group who effectively responded to a significant need through volunteer action.


Judy Hein–Winner


Last fall, Chinese Camp resident Judy Hein learned that the long-time “Family to Family” Christmas program was ending. She took it upon herself to take up the cause and create a new group — Frosty’s Friends – to help brighten the holidays for families in need. Leading a group of more than a dozen volunteers, she contacted busineses, collected donations, coordinated pick-up, storage and delivery, and managed every detail to provide food, gifts and clothing to more than 160 local families. She continued a beloved Tuolumne County tradition of helping families in need at the holidays, and made sure it can continue for years to come.


The Volunteer Champion Award


It is presented to a nonprofit organization that does an exemplary job of mentoring its volunteers.

ATCAA Mentoring Works and Director Elena Linehan – Winner

For years, ATCAA’s Mentoring Works program has been recruiting and training a devoted team of volunteers to work one-on-one with at-risk youth and provide them with friendship and guidance. Each volunteer begins their work with an interview, background check, and six-hour orientation. Each mentor is asked to commit to at least one full year of service, and is provided with quarterly training and support to help assure that the child, his or her family and the mentor work together to create a successful match. It’s a rewarding and well-thought out process.


The “Never too Young” Award


It goes to someone between the ages of 6 and 18 who works to improve our community. The Sonora Sunrise Rotary Clubsponsors this award


Stephanie Hoffman — Winner


Stephanie Hoffman is a young woman truly devoted to a cause – helping animals in many, many ways. A La Grange teen and Tioga High student, she has been volunteering with the Tuolumne County Humane Society for three years. In addition to caring for animals at the shelter, she takes pictures of pets up for adoption, posts them on the Humane Society website and keeps the site updated from her home. She works with the shelter staff, other volunteers and families adopting pets, and spends many after-school hours and weekends at the shelter. She is also a peer counselor at her high school, and volunteers with ReHorse Rescue, the Fresno Bully Rescue and Mono Way Veterinary Hospital. Not surprisingly, she is preparing for a career in helping animals – and she is already a glowing example of how to make a difference!


The Community Excellence Award


It recognizes a business in our community that supports volunteerism among its employees.


The Safari Learning Academy–Winner


This award honors the administration, staff and parents at Safari Learning, for setting an outstanding example for the many children in their care. The Safari Learning team involves children in many service projects every year, from making cards and gifts for local Alzhimers patients to creating and passing along 100 “homeless survival packages” filled with personal care items. They do this every year! Children, parents and staff have also raised funds for Haiti disaster relief and collected school supplies and shoes for children in Zambia, Africa.


Lifetime Achievement Award


This very special award honors the exemplary individuals in our community who have a lasting record of volunteerism over many years.


Paul Howay–Winner

A community volunteer for more than 25 years, Hetch Hetchy mechanic Paul Howay has been what his friend Duke York calls a “silent volunteer” — the driving force back in the kitchen at so many community events, providing the expertise, the equipment and so many countless hours of hard work making sure that dozens of community groups can have successful events. As the primary contact now for the late Frank and Marion Salel’s community kitchen equipment, he oversees the check-in, check-out, storage, maintenance and repair of a huge inventory of equipment ranging from large grills and steam tables to small appliances and catering gear. In partnership with the Sonora Area Foundation and the Sonora 49er Rotary, this equipment is made available to more than 30 community groups week-in and week-out for benefit events and other occasions. It’s provided for free, and Paul has been in charge of it all for more than 10 years.


As for his own causes, this devoted father is a lifelong Girl Scout booster and invaluable Sonora High School volunteer. Each summer, he is chief cook at the Girl Scout camp, preparing three meals a day for 350 campers all week long – and at 6-foot-five, with his stunning red hair – he’s definitely a stand-out! He also heads up the Girl Scouts’ annual pancake breakfast – including the one held just last week. He also has worked many years with Sonora High School fundraisers long after his own kids were through the program, and still organizes and oversees the school’s senior graduation breakfast.



The nominations are reviewed by an independent judging panel. This years judges were: Barbara Broad of GAINS (Groveland Area Involved Neighbors), Mark Dyken, Executive Director of the Jamestown Family Resource Center, and Dr. Todd Stolp, Tuolumne County Public Health Officer.