DOWNEY – More than two dozen community volunteers were honored at a dinner ceremony hosted by the Downey Coordinating Council last Thursday at the Rio Hondo Event Center.
The volunteers represented local non-profit groups, businesses, churches and service clubs.
Below is a complete list of honorees, listed in alphabetical order according to their group, along with bios as provided by the Coordinating Council:
Carol Veatch – American Business Women's Association
Carol Veatch was born in Long Beach where she lived all her life. She is a graduate of Pacific Christian College.
Before retiring she worked as the secretary of Downey First Christian Church; she still volunteers there for Bible School, choir and coordinates their semi-annual blood drive.
Carol joined the American Business Women's Association where she has held various chapter offices. Carol has been chosen their current Woman of the Year. This honor was bestowed on her for her never ending doing and giving. This organization offers Carol many opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
Margery Lewis – Assistance League of Downey
Margery Lewis has been an active member of Assistance League since 1995 and has served in several positions, including president, recording secretary, bylaws chairman, education chair and philanthropic chair.
She was chairman of Operation School Bell. The committee receives referrals form Downey Unified School District teachers and then provides school clothes for needy students. Margery helped change the process to having special shopping times at Kohl's department store, where the student and a family member select school appropriate clothing, paid for by the Assistance League.
Margery is active in several other philanthropic groups and is a Downey treasure. Our congratulations to "Marge" Lewis!
Carolina Estrada-Del Toro – Downey Arts Coalition
Carolina Estrada-Del Toro is a fine-arts photographer who has exhibited her work at several galleries throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Carolina is a founding member of the Downey Arts Coalition, now in its fifth year, and she has contributed countless hours to the public art events enjoyed by the local community, including events of music, theater, film and poetry, as well as fine arts.
The art exhibits at the city of Downey Rooftop events last year were curated by Carolina, and she helped with the art exhibits for the hugely successful Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Downey Civic Theatre. Carolina has also served as a judge for the Congressional District Art Competition, headed by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez.
Joanna Peterson – Downey Chamber of Commerce
Joanna Peterson has worked in the dental field for 43 years after graduation from Lawton Dental Assisting School. She started as a dental assistant and worked up the ladder to CEO of a 12-office dental group with offices in California and Oregon. She is currently at Gallatin Dental.
She is a Downey Lion member. She has been extremely instrumental in our Ambassador Committee as well as the Street Faire and Gold Committee. Joanna is a true dynamo!
Jaclyn Guido – Downey City Library
Jaclyn Guido is an outstanding volunteer at the Downey City Library. She represented the library at a City Council meeting that issued the proclamation for the 2008 National Library Week.
Jaclyn began volunteering in 2012 with our Summer Reading Program and has been a weekly volunteer ever since. She is an outstanding young adult who is dedicated, diligent, reliable and hard working. Jaclyn has played a critical role in making library events successful by assisting, promoting and participating in our programs.
Cleola Brown – Downey Coordinating Council
Cleola Brown served two years as a very dedicated president, seeing all is in place with her board and providing them with assistance when needed.
She visits with members and guests as they arrive for the meetings to make them feel welcome. For years she has represented the ABWA organization.
In her spare time she enjoys her exercise dance class. She will be serving as hostess this coming year.
We appreciate you, Cleola, for all you have done for Coordinating Council and for our community.
Jean Fiddler – Downey Family YMCA
Jean Fiddler is a dedicated volunteer serving the youth in our community.
Jean co-founded the Downey South Gate Youth and Government delegation and she continues as a program advisor. For nine years Jean ran the Downey Family YMCA Model United Nationals program for middle school students. Jean exemplifies the YMCA mission of providing youth leadership.
Jean is a hometown girl, while attending West Middle School she discovered her passion for U.S. History and has come full circle as she is currently an eighth grade U.S. History teacher at Stauffer Middle School.
The YMCA is grateful to Jean for the dedication she has to providing quality programs for our youth.
Emely Lopez – Downey Federal Credit Union
Emely spends most of her waking hours giving back to the city of Downey and beyond. She spends her time volunteering for so many good causes that we could not possibly list them all.
She helped with multiple projects for each of the following: Girls League, ASB/Student Government, Warren Humanitarian Society, Downey Youth Commission, Stay Gallery, and she tutors DUSD students.
Most notably, this summer, Emely will be going on a mission trip to Uganda to serve an orphanage of 400 children as well as help renovate schools.
All the reasons above and more is why Downey Federal Credit Union would like to honor Emely Lopez!
Frank Williams – Downey Historical Society
Frank joined the Historical Society in 2002 as an active board member and treasurer and has fulfilled that position and then some. He prepares our monthly treasurer's report for board meetings, paying our bills, advises us as to what item should be planned for, and what can be purchased right away.
His advice and talents are a valuable asset to our organization. His knowledge of Downey history and volunteer spirit has served the Society for many years and this award is given with all the honor he deserved. Thank you, Frank, for all you do.
Rosa Orozco – Downey Lions Club
Rosa Orozco reflects and demonstrates what a volunteer should be in her commitment to Lions and her community.
Rosa was already doing her part in serving and assisting the Downey Lions even prior to becoming a Lion; she took it upon herself to recruit her family and friends to do service hours and give donations. Her strong dedication and willingness to serve the needs of the community is a true inspiration.
She has worked countless hours on projects such as our student backpack shopping spree project, veterans and Memorial Day tributes, Thanksgiving basket, Christmas toy giveaway, etc. She is a true Lion to the core and you can always count on her.
Matt Santisteven – Downey Rose Float Association
Matt Santisteven has been with the organization for the past six years and in that time he has not only worked at all of the fundraisers, he has become a vital part of the crew.
Matt works on building, decorating and tearing down the float entry, along with being a co-driver in the New Year's Day parade and Christmas Parade. He has also drive our Queen's float in the Christmas Parade.
During our fundraisers, Matt helps with organization, obtaining necessary supplies and loaning the organization his own equipment when needed. Matt spends all week and stays all night during our decoration weeks when building the float. Matt is an important part of the organization.
Armando Juarez-Gonzalez – Downey Sister Cities Association
Armando Juarez-Gonzalez has been a driving force behind DSCA these past few years.
He has worked very hard in developing a Sister City relationship between Fresnillo, Zacatecas and Downey. Armando has worked on collecting donations of toys, blankets, oil, rice and beans. He has made sure these donations go to parts of Fresnillo that still do not have running water or electricity.
He has also worked very hard to have a fire department exchange program. This led to the training of the Fresnillo Fire Department. Now he works on DSCA's behalf in developing a student exchange program. He is working on a 3x1 program to help raise scholarships for those in need.
Mark Keller – Downey Symphony Guild
Mark Keller has been instrumental in creating better communications and organization between the Society and the Guild by heading a Calendar Committee. He is the publicity officer to keep the public aware of Guild events and news. Mark became a member of the Guild last year.
Mark has lived in Downey since 1972 and was a city of Downey employee at the Downey Theatre from 1985 to 2011. He was the House Manager at the theatre for many years then became the Stage Manager.
The Downey Symphony Guild is delighted to recognize Mark as Volunteer of the Year.
Don Marshall – Downey Symphony Society
Don Marshall moved to Downey in 2011 after retiring.
He grew up in South Gate and earned an ABscl from Harvard and a PhD from Yale in English. He taught at UCLA, University of Iowa, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Pepperdine, where he was Fletcher Jones Professor of Great Books.
He served on the boards of the Poetry Foundation, the Illinois Humanities Council, and the Chicago Humanities Festival. He has participated in the Downey Arts Coalition and served on the board of the Downey Symphonic Society from 2013. He has published essays and books in his field and written articles for the World Book encyclopedia.
Don brings fresh ideas and volumes of enthusiasm to the Symphony. Downey and the arts have benefited greatly. Many thanks, Don!
Steve Sedano – Downey Unified School District TLC
Steve Sedano was the answer to our prayers. We met him through a collaboration with the YMCA a couple of years ago. All the members of the TLC staff immediately connected with this respectful and very helpful young man.
He's always willing to lend a helping hand with whatever is needed to support the TLC team. He has a great sense of humor, he often makes us laugh. Steve is very special to all of us at TLC and he knows it; he refers to the TLC staff as his Fairy Godmothers.
Ann Hutchinson – Downey United Methodist Church
Ann Hutchinson is a longtime member of Downey United Methodist Church and currently serves as chair of the Finance Committee. She also serves on our Discipleship Pathway team.
However, Ann's service is not limited to the church. She has a long history of involvement in the Downey community, including volunteering in the classroom and serving in PTA. She has been a Cub Scout leader and a Boy Scout leader. She was a member of the Downey Regional Medical Center Auxiliary for 34 years. Currently she serves on the Gypsy Johnson Auxiliary of the Assistance League of Downey and as the recording secretary for the board.
Ann exemplifies our mission of making a difference for Christ in Downey and beyond.
Roy Beard – Emergency Preparedness Committee
Roy Beard was appointed to the Emergency Preparedness Committee on Jan. 27, 2009 by Councilmember Roger Brossmer. He has been instrumental in the development, planning and coordination of EPC involvement in city events such as the Street Faire, Kids Day, concerts in the park, the water barrel distribution and the flu clinics.
Roy is a member of Downey CERT, American Red Cross and currently he is a certified emergency vehicle operator for The Arc. We appreciate you, Roy.
Sandy Bujanda – Food Helps Outreach
Sandy Bujanda first came to get food for herself. It was quick and natural step for Sandy to volunteer.
Sandy's favorite thing to do at Food Helps is to work directly with our neighbors. Sandy always gives out food with a smile on her face and is happy to serve in any way necessary. Sandy serves the community with the love of Jesus.
Cleo Latimer – Friends of the Downey Library
We lost Cleo Latimer this year but her name will always be mentioned when the Friends of the Library is discussed.
She loved books. She was always recommending a book for everybody to read. One of the big events she initiated at the Library was "One Book, One Community."
She loved to read to the children at the library. She served as president of the Friends of the Downey Library for two terms and many of her programs are still in place.
She thought about the Friends to the very end – she mentioned us in her will.
Ray Mesler – Gangs Out of Downey
Ray Mesler currently serves as president and CEO of Downey Federal Credit Union. Ray, the DFCU board and the entire credit union have a solid commitment to the Downey community.
Ray currently serves as the treasurer of GOOD and has been heavily involved in the annual Gangs Out of Downey luncheon. Ray has already taken an active role in a planned golf tournament for the benefit of GOOD later this year. He also serves on the board of the Downey Family YMCA and is a member of Downey Rotary.
His commitment, along with DFCU, is focusing on areas such as financial literacy/education, eradicating hunger and serving the underserved (low-income families).
Cummins Pacific Team – Keep Downey Beautiful
Cummins Pacific staff first volunteered at a monthly Keep Downey Beautiful cleanup in 2013 and has participated in two cleanups per year since.
Their staff planted four trees at Independence Park in celebration of Arbor Day in 2013 and recently they worked with city staff to install and assemble the new recycle trash bins and picnic tables at Furman Park.
Cummins Pacific staff is encouraged to volunteer in the community and city they live and work in. Keep Downey Beautiful is proud to honor the Downey Cummins Pacific team as our outstanding volunteers this year.
Bill Johnson – OLPH Women's Guild
Once again, the Guild is honoring one of those dedicated individuals who tirelessly work behind the scenes and ask for no recognition – only to serve those in need.
This year we have changed genders, selecting Bill Johnson (Sally's husband) as our chosen and much appreciated Volunteer of the Year.
Bill is very active in the Elks and the American Legion and has assisted his wife in the preparation of the OLPH Women's Guild luncheons for the past 10 years. In addition, every week Bill picks up bread donations from Von's market which dramatically aids the Skid Row Sandwich Program; it takes a lot of bread to make 800 sandwiches a week. Our love and gratitude to you, Bill!
Donna and George Boose – PTA HELPS
Donna and George Boose are valuable volunteers to PTA HELPS. They have only been with the program for a few years but they certainly have shown their love for the program through their contribution to our community.
Donna retired from the Downey Unified School District in 2003, where she held the positions of teacher, curriculum specialist, director of elementary instruction and deputy superintendent. George and Donna also volunteer at their church.
We are proud to honor these two for their dedication to PTA HELPS and our community.
Claudia De Leon-Camarena – Soroptimist International of Downey
Claudia De Leon-Camarena was chosen as Volunteer of the Year for 2014-15 because her leadership and devotion to attend all the club functions, help coordinate events like our gala and participate in the mentor program for new members has surpassed our expectations.
After a four-year membership, she volunteered to become president. Her memorable accomplishment was at Rancho Los Amigos Rehab Center, where she took charge over the arrangements of Valentine's Day gifts.
We believe she definitely deserves the Volunteer of the Year award. Claudia plants kindness and gathers love. She branches out helping others, a true Soroptimist. Our group has reaped the rewards of her kindness and devotion.
Betty Morse – The Arc Los Angeles & Orange Counties
Betty Morse could be the Volunteer of the Year for The Arc every year.
Betty has served The Arc for almost 30 years and continues today with the same passion and energy that first brought her to serve people with developmental disabilities at The Arc. Betty has chaired the Arc Walk for Independence since 1998 and witnessed its growth from several hundred walkers to thousands. She has served on The Arc's board of directors in almost every capacity and is a three-time past president.
She is indeed a champion for the people with developmental disabilities at The Arc.
Patricia Martinez – Woman's Club of Downey
Patricia Martinez exemplifies what an outstanding volunteer should be.
When called upon to help raise money for our annual Fashion Show, she stepped up and raised money by means of a successful raffle. She raised funds for our yearbook by selling ads. She's run bake sales and other opportunity drawings and gift baskets to raise funds for the many charities we support, often donating her own money. She's donated many hours in order to accomplish whatever was asked of her.
When our 3rd Vice President in charge of fundraising developed health problems, Pat stepped in and was her "right hand" and support. Pat is outstanding.