The 44th annual Community Awards was held at the Sebastopol Center of the Arts on Thursday, March 7. Enjoy the slideshow of this year's award winners.

The 44th annual Community Awards was held at the Sebastopol Center of the Arts on Thursday, March 7. Enjoy the slideshow of this year's award winners.

Here are their bios, as submitted by the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce.

Mia Del Prete - Citizen of the Year award

Mia grew up in Sebastopol, attended our local schools and graduated from Sonoma State with a BA in Liberal Studies. Mia has always been an active member of the Sebastopol Community. As a young girl she joined 4-H where she learned the importance of giving back to her community. Once she entered high school, she became an active member of the Interact Club, volunteering for several Sebastopol Rotary events.

After Mia and her husband started a family and their girls started school, she became a member of the PTA and education foundations. During this time she also served on the Food Committee that fed the volunteers that built the Super Playground. Once the girls entered high school, Mia quickly joined the Analy Boosters Club. For six years she served as the Chair for Staffing the Booster Snack Bar for the football, soccer and basketball games. There were many times when it was difficult to find volunteers to work so of course she recruited her husband and friends to flip hamburgers. She even reached out to Alumni Booster Members her parents’ age and encouraged them volunteer for a few shifts.

Once her daughters were in college, Mia found her way to join the Sebastopol Rotary Club, where she has co-chaired and chaired their biggest fundraisers, chaired and served on committees and again is the chair for the upcoming fundraiser in October 2019. Mia joined the Chamber of Commerce two years ago, where she has served as a Director on the Board. Mia is also a member of the Italian Catholic Federation with St. Sebastian Church.

One of the greatest gifts Mia can give to her community is giving back since she benefitted from this community growing up. One of her favorite Chamber Events is the tree lighting. “It is such a joy to watch the children light up when they see Santa arrive on the fire truck!"

Jim Levy - Firefighter of the Year award

15-year veteran with the Sebastopol Fire Department, driver/operator engineer, swiftwater rescue technician, technical Rescue systems. 18-year veteran with Bodega Bay Fire Protection District, paramedic, fire prevention officer, County EMS coordinator, acting fire captain.

Benjamin Schott - Police Officer of the Year award

Officer Benjamin Schott was named the 2018 Sebastopol Police Employee of the Year. During 2018, Officer Schott was commended by his peers as a hard-working community servant and team player; he routinely worked overtime shifts so that others could take needed time off, frequently being the first to volunteer to do so. Community members commended Officer Schott for his patient and genuinely compassionate assistance — including one person whom Officer Schott had arrested.

On November 17, Officer Schott was dispatched to an emergency medical aid call; an elderly man was at home alone, bleeding profusely. Officer Schott arrived within a minute of being dispatched and assessed the man’s medical condition. He quickly determined the man had a cut or severed artery and had already lost a significant amount of blood. Officer Schott immediately took action by applying a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. When emergency medical crews arrived, the man was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Officer Schott’s quick thinking and immediate action played an important role in saving the man’s life.

Emma Castleberry - Youth Volunteer of the Year

(Not pictured) “I first began volunteering with youth diagnosed with a variety of different disabilities at age 12 when I found out about a summer camp held in Howarth Park, Camp Kaos, that specializes in giving youth with disabilities, from ages 5-21, a chance to explore and be independent. After the first week, I realized how much I enjoyed bonding with these kids and getting to be apart of their growth. From there, I began helping in the special education class at my middle school as a teacher’s assistant and continued to volunteer at Camp Kaos every summer. The relationships and connections I made with teachers and psychologists at Camp Kaos allowed me to find more volunteer opportunities, for example, Cypress Conductive Education School. Just this year, I began volunteering at Cypress School in Petaluma, with children mainly diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This helped me gain so much more experience that I can apply to my future career. Through all of my volunteering, I discovered that occupational therapy is the career path that I want to follow, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Mark Wiley - Volunteer of the Year award

Mark has been locking the Laguna Skate Garden Park every evening for the past eight years. Mark said that the Skate Park has been a real jewel for this community, manifested after years of hard work and dedication by another wonderful group of volunteers (his partner Debra Capria one of them) – He says he only “simply carries the torch!” He want to thank the crew at Public Works (shout out to Dante and Nathan and crew) for maintaining the park as well. Everyone should take a stroll thru the park, back to the Community Gardens, and see what we all have. There’s also a children’s park adjacent to the Skate Park. Both open until 10 p.m. — with lights!

Sebastopol World Friends - Non-profit Community Organization with a Global Vision award

Sebastopol World Friends (SWF) is a non-profit organization and member of Sister City International. It was established after a sister-city relationship between Sebastopol and Yamauchi, Japan was began in 1985.

The Mission of SWF is to link Sebastopol with its sister cities through a variety of educational and cultural programs and to coordinate exchanges which promote lasting friendships.

In 1993, a sister city relationship was established between Sebastopol and Chyhyryn, Ukraine.

In 2011, after Yamauchi was incorporated into the city of Takeo, Sebastopol and Takeo signed a sister city agreement.

SWF organizes a middle school exchange program with Takeo which has been active for over 30 years and has brought thousands of families together between our cities. Our next delegation of friends will be arriving in Sebastopol on March 23rd.

SWF have had numerous exchanges with Chyhyryn, Ukraine, and most recently the group successful in a fundraising effort which supplied over $400,000 worth of much needed medical supplies to the Chyhyryn District Hospital through Project CURE. A bench will be dedicated in the Sebastopol town plaza on March 17 at 1 p.m. in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of our sister city relationship with Chyhyryn.

SWF was the recipient of the Sister City International award for the “Best First Year Program” and in 2013 won the “Best Overall Program” for cities with a population under 25,000. It has also received grants from Hewlett Packard, the Japan Foundation, SCI and the Open World Leadership Center.

SWF hosts an annual Sister City Friendship Dinner and Celebration which will be held on Saturday, November 2, which the entire community is invited to enjoy food and entertainment from Japan and Ukraine.

SWF is run by an all-volunteer board, who together with the amazing support of the Sebastopol and our Sister City communities are continually striving to build “World Peace, One Friend at a Time”

Andy Del Monte - Service to Youth award

(Not pictured) Andy has taught at Analy High School since 1997. A Sonoma County native, he graduated from Cardinal Newman High School and SRJC. He received a bachelor degree in Music Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in music education from Boston University. Andy currently conducts the choirs at Analy and Brookhaven Middle School, and he is an involved member of the Sebastopol Community Church. Andy was awarded 2013 West Sonoma County Teacher of the Year by Sebastopol Rotary and 2017 Director of the Year by the Northern California Band and Choir Directors Association. Among his passions are music, community service and working with youth, but being a loving husband to his wife Kristen and being a dedicated father to his amazing children Emma, Ethan, Elia and Erika has always been his greatest passion.

Brian Ledig - Senior Center Volunteer of the Year award

Brian Ledig needed to find room for his young daughter to run and moved to Sebastopol from San Jose in 1988. Now, many years later, he and his lovely wife Marykate Fleming live in west county. His daughter Emily Ledig is now married and living in San Francisco.

Brian became interested in senior affairs when an aging friend needed help. He realized that there were many important and complex issues facing our west county aging population. He became active in the Sebastopol Area Senior Center in 2014 upon being elected to the board of directors and became president of the board in 2016.

Brian is a successful Realtor with Coldwell Banker, specializing in helping seniors downsize.

Brian has been previously active in the Sebastopol and Santa Rosa Chambers of Commerce and the American Red Cross as a damage assessment specialist. He now spends his time working with seniors.

Sunny Galbraith - Environmental Consciousness award

Sunny Galbraith is an environmental activist with the local climate action group 350 Sonoma and a high school science and math teacher at Orchard View School in Sebastopol. With 350 Sonoma, she heads up the Zero Waste subcommittee, a group that collaborated with Recology to bring composting and metal utensils to the Sebastopol Farmer’s market last fall and will help with greening the Sebastopol Peacetown concert series this summer. Sunny is on the Sonoma County Zero Waste Task Force and works in collaboration with other local environmental and labor community groups to make Zero Waste a reality in Sonoma County. She is also the City of Sebastopol’s representative to the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency’s Local Task Force on AB 939, a group tasked with finding solutions to reduce waste countywide. Sunny will be serving on the newly formed Sebastopol City Council’s Zero Waste Committee.

Sunny received her B.S. in Biology from U.C. San Diego and her mathematics and biology teaching credentials from Sonoma State. She founded and runs the compost and recycling program at Apple Blossom and Orchard View Schools, in which she trains elementary, middle and high school students to run the lunchtime compost and recycling lunch program. Over the past 12 years, her program has diverted over 80,000 pounds of organics and recycling from the landfill through on-site worm bins, the county green-waste program and recycling. Sunny provides guidance to other schools in setting up student-run lunchtime compost and recycling programs and is currently assisting the new Zero Waste program at Analy High School. Sunny has also taught with the Mike Hauser Academy, leading high school students in math- and science-based explorations with local STEM businesses. Sunny has been a classroom teacher for 17 years and an environmental educator for 22 years. In 2015, Sunny was awarded the West Sonoma County Teacher of the Year by the Sebastopol Rotary.

John Wooley - Humanitarian of the Year award

John Woley was born in  1947 in San Francisco and rew up in Sausalito. He graduated from San Jose State University in 1971 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. He spent seven years in the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve, achieving the rank of Boatswain's Mate First Class. He spent his  engineering career in Marin and Sonoma counties, both in the public and private sectors.

His last gig was as the district engineer for the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

John moved to Sebastopol in 1984 and has lived in same house since and sent four kids through the local public schools.

He’s been married for 25 years to Kathy Wooley.  He’s been a longtime Sebastopol bank officer, and for 30 years, a member of Evergreen Lodge 161, Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Jayne Burns - Contribution to the Arts award

Jayne Burns has lived in Sebastopool since 1981, when she arrived in California from New Jersey. Married to John Burns, they raised two children; Harrison, 29, and Julia, 25.

In the 1980s she worked at the Sebastopol Times and then established the West County News with her husband. Jayne learned about advertising, marketing and publishing. When her children were young, she owned and operated the Welcome Mat greeting service for new Sebastopol residents. She served as the director of Sonoma County Farm Trails for almost 10 years, bringing the public and farmers closer together. She even worked at the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce for two years!

In addition to her volunteer work at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Jayne also serves on the Board of Artstart, a mentoring and intern program for young artists. Jayne coordinated their project to colorfully paint our local news racks. Jayne’s community involvement along with many interests and skills have proved to be very useful at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.

Pacific Market - Business of the Year award

The idea of Pacific Market began when Stan and Mary Mohar decided to start one of the first grocery stores in Northern California to offer a dedicated organic produce section. Opening in 1948, the little business helped pioneer the natural and healthy foods movement. Pacific Market continues to offer the diverse selection of quality groceries that it's been known for since it opened. The legacy of Stan and Mary Mohar continues on as the company upholds the same level of customer service that was started over 70 years ago.

Over the 70 years Pacific Market has been an icon in Sebastopol, continually giving back to the community; most recently with the leadership of our Chamber President Bob Aita, previous Pacific Market owner Kenny Silveira led the charge in bringing back the popular Wine Tent to our Annual Apple Blossom Festival. Store director Al Minero, initiated a fundraiser; selling See’s Candy at the store, with all the proceeds going to the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce to support of the annual tree lighting. Store director Minero attends and supports Chamber Mixers to promote community support.

Tobin and Sheila Beach - Outstanding Public Service award

West County Martial Arts & Fitness is a local Sebastopol family business run by west county natives, Tobin and Sheila Beach. Tobin was born and raised in Sebastopol and graduated from Analy High School. He has studied martial arts in one form or another all his life and has been teaching Kenpo Karate all over Sonoma County for over 20 years. His wife Sheila Beach was born in Bozeman, Montana, and has lived in Sebastopol with her family for nearly a decade now. Sheila has studied Japanese Jujitsu for four years and Kenpo Karate for 10 years. Aside from also being a college-educated medical professional, she serves as a full time instructor/administrator for the family business.

After leaving the community center program in Santa Rosa where Tobin was teaching, the Beaches decided to begin a martial arts program in their garage near Brookhaven school. Their oldest son, Jaden attended middle school at Brookhaven, so most of their first batch of students were Jaden’s friends. It was during those days in the garage that the Beaches first began taking on various at-risk youth as students as well as some students brought to them by social services. It was also during the early days of West County Kenpo that Terin Beach, Tobin and Sheila’s second son, was born. Having a little baby playing in the corner of class may have been a necessity at the time, but it would one day become the hallmark of the family environment that the Beaches create for all of their students.

Now, almost 10 years after the first classes were held in the Beach’s garage, West County Martial Arts & Fitness is the largest and most professionally equipped training studio in Northern California. Fortunately, the ever-growing commercial status of the Beach family business does not detract from its family-oriented atmosphere. The Kenpo classes at West County are largely comprised of families of at least two or three members training together. The Beach family themselves have certainly grown their family to match their business. Terin, who is now eight, has been joined by his 5-year-old brother Ronen, and his two-year-old baby brother Lórien. Tobin and Sheila also ended up informally adopting a beloved student who has been with them since the garage days, Mr. Kalib Caples, who now attends UC Merced and rounds out the Beach boys to an even five!

The Beach family has also continued to grow their portfolio of non-profit students and activities. While spending their evenings teaching Kenpo, Mr. Beach spends his weekends taking at-risk teenagers on hiking, backpacking and mountaineering trips. Students learn meditation techniques and valuable life skills, while also building their confidence summiting many of California’s greatest mountains. Some students even find their calling competing with honor and integrity in youth MMA competitions. Regardless of being a struggling and small family business, the Beach’s continue to take on pro-bono students, work with social services and local special education schools, providing their classes and camps to the those who need it most. Even though non-profit fundraising has yet to get off the ground, West County Martial Arts & Fitness remains committed to its goals to provide everyone who needs to feel confident and safe with the training to do so.

“We want every human to share in the right and the means to protect themselves. We want every child missing a parent to have a Sensei to look up to and to confide in. We want every victim of abuse to learn to take their power and confidence back. We want every kid without a family to join the great one we’ve built, and we want everyone without a home to have a great Dojo that will always welcome them inside.”

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