A number of local businesses and teens actively involved in the community will be saluted on Friday night, part of the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner.
This week, we profile those local firms nominated for Business of the Year honors as well as the youths nominated in the category of Junior Achievement.
Information regarding all the nominees was provided by the Chamber of Commerce.
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
Academy Mortgage Corporation
Academy Mortgage Corporation opened an Oakdale Branch in 2013. Academy Mortgage promotes sustainable homeownership and assists its clients in reaching their short-term and long-term goals with responsible lending. Academy is focused on helping its employees, partners, and communities become the best they can be with their vision to “Inspire hope, deliver dreams, and build prosperity.”
In 2014, Academy Mortgage showed its commitment to affordable housing and the dream of homeownership by helping over 300 families purchase homes in Stanislaus County. Academy supported Allison Carroll, Senior Loan Officer in Oakdale, with her volunteer efforts in Oakdale through the Central Valley Association of Realtors, which raised over $20,000 in 2014 for scholarships to high school students, donations to Community Sharing, and other causes.
It is easy to see why Academy Mortgage was nominated for the support and involvement it brings to the community.
Cowboy Toffee Company
Cowboy Toffee Company is the result of two hard working entrepreneurs who took a risk. Cowboy Toffee Company embraces the ‘cowboy capital’ slogan and Oakdale’s western heritage; including naming many products after some of our western icons. The secret family recipe stems from a home econ class that one of the owners, Sam McGinnis made while at Oakdale High School. Hence, the first flavor is called “The Mustang.”
Cowboy Toffee Company continues to push the envelope of flavor combinations in their gourmet toffee. The company has won several awards for their toffee, including Gold for Best Toffee in San Francisco Fall Chocolate Salon. The toffee is a fundraiser for several clubs in the area. The owners do events throughout the state and people always want to know where they are based. They take that opportunity to educate and promote Oakdale and its small town values. They help make Oakdale a little more famous; one box at a time.
Raley’s Oakdale branch opened April 2008, and has been heavily involved in the community since opening its doors. Raley’s contributes baked goods and other wholesome items to Oakdale Community Sharing on a daily basis. The meat department donated turkeys, chickens, and hams for the needy during the holiday season.
Another Raley’s tradition is to attend the Stanislaus County Fair to support local agricultural youth. In 2014, Oakdale’s branch helped purchase several animals from prospective area farmers-to-be; supporting students’ efforts to raise and rear livestock and to manage each animal as their own personal business venture.
Raley’s genuinely cares about feeding the hungry in our area, and sponsors the Food for Families program. Food for Families generates thousands of dollars each year toward the goal of eliminating hunger for families. Through this program and other partners, groceries are distributed to needy families. For the holiday season of 2014, Raley’s matches the donations from their customers and contributed over 6 tons of food exclusively for the underprivileged in the Oakdale area.
Raley’s has helped neighborhoods, churches, classrooms and schools, Future Farmers of America, and many others with their generosity and support.
Revitalize Professional Fitness
Revitalize Professional Fitness prides themselves on being a smaller and more personal gym. Owner, J.R. Dahm, grew up in Oakdale and opened his business in his hometown to help improve health and wellness of the community he loves. J.R. and his wife, Carla, are dedicated to results based training and make professional personal training accessible to everyone.
Revitalize Professional Fitness opened its doors in 2012 and has been changing their clients lives since. Throughout the years, the company has hosted weight loss challenges to motivate their clients. However, in September 2014, they took it one step further with a larger challenge for the community. Fifty-five community members accepted the Oakdale Biggest Loser Challenge. At the conclusion of the 9 week competition, the challengers lost a total of 580 pounds and 887 inches. Even more important, the participants were stronger, healthier, and happier.
Also in 2014, staff members were invited to assist in training the girls’ volleyball team at the High School. The staff led the physical conditioning of the girls during their week long training. The girls on the team were also invited to attend Body Blast Boot camp over summer free of charge. This partnership was very successful and coaches said they noticed a difference with the players’ cardio endurance and strength after training with Revitalize Professional Fitness.
A Kids Summer Camp was introduced in 2014 as well. The goal of this camp was to familiarize kids in the community to a structured exercise program with nutritional guidance. Parents were educated on nutrition since they are the primary caretakers and shop for food. This program was successful and will likely repeat next summer.
People who had given up on weight loss are finding hope and those with injuries are finding strength and independence again thanks to Revitalize Professional Fitness’ great work.
Stickman Ventures, Inc.
Stickman Ventures, Inc. and their employees help bring technology and the Web to businesses within Oakdale. Their help with outreach programs in the area, including Google’s My Business initiative, have helped local businesses become more visible and findable on the Internet.
Originally starting in Palo Alto in 2007, the company incorporated in Ireland that same year and in California in 2009. The company has team members in four states, two countries, and an island. Their clients and partners are spread all over the globe.
Stickman Ventures is made up of creative, tech-savvy team members whose work often requires them to host other business leaders at their office, bringing professionals from around the world to our town for a peek at what Oakdale has to offer. This is vital to our local businesses.
The company also generously hosts students through job shadows. Stickman generously provides education, training, and innovation to the Oakdale masses.
Veronica Becerra is an 8th grader who suffered a great family loss a year ago when her father committed suicide. Through this difficult situation, she has turned her pain into a quest to help herself and others heal. She attends events for daughters of lost family members, like Jessica’s House, and is a part of suicide awareness by raising money and participating in the Walk out of Darkness event.
Recently, she painted a picture for a dinner auction in honor of her dad and grief support group. She is a current member of Leadership and coordinated the Christmas Spirit Tree at school for youth in need. Veronica is a member of the Speak Up Club at school. Speak Up Club’s mission is to try to stop gossip and promote kindness. She also stays busy volunteering and raising money for foster youth at her church, participates in clean up the community events, and has been dancing and performing folkloric dancing since she was two. There is no question why this young woman was nominated for Junior Achievement.
Ashley Caron is a senior at Oakdale High School and proud to be a part of the Oakdale community. Ashley has participated in or held leadership roles in the Model United Nations team, California Scholarship Federation, cross-country, Service Club, and French Club. The Academic Decathlon program is one of Ashley’s passions; she has been part of Oakdale’s team throughout all four years of high school in the Honors category, which can be a difficult division as it includes all students with a 4.0 GPA or higher. Last year, she was part of the Competing Team, which won the county competition and placed 11th in the state of California.
Ashley’s career goal is to become an equine veterinarian and with her love of animals, it is easy to see why. Pioneer Equine Hospital allows Ashley to shadow their veterinarians, giving her a glimpse into her future career. However, the community service project done for Oakdale Equine Rescue best shows Ashley’s big heart. In March of 2014, she attended the Gallo Early Start Leadership camp. The camp’s design is to enable women to become effective leaders and change their communities for the better through service projects. It was here that the Benefit Barn Ball came into being. The Benefit Barn Ball was a nonprofit fundraiser for the Oakdale Equine Rescue that included a dinner, silent and live auctions, live country music and dancing, all in the beautiful Marsella Barn. Ashley created a website where the tickets for the event were sold and donations were accepted. Before the event, she enlisted the help of her parents and sister to act as her core team; putting up posters in many Oakdale businesses, and going to different stores to find donations for the auction. The Oakdale community responded wonderfully, and generous businesses donated to the Benefit. On September 20th, her months of work culminated into a successful event and the Benefit raised over $10,000.
With this money, the Oakdale Equine Rescue was able to buy 8 stacks of hay for the winter, schedule much-needed vet appointments, and even pay for a surgery to remove cancer from a horse’s eye. Even at her young age, Ashley has already made a huge impact on the community.
Alyssa Cogburn is an 8th grade student who is very involved in her school. She currently holds a 4.0 GPA; while taking all advanced placement classes. She is in OJHS Leadership and a member of California Junior Scholarship Federation. She was also chosen Student of the Month for December 2014.
Alyssa has played 2 years of volleyball for OJHS and is in her second year of club volleyball for Double Trouble Volleyball Club in Oakdale. She inspires her team on and off the court. She helps students with homework before games and always encourages her teammates to play hard. Alyssa attends Big Valley Grace Community Church where she enjoys helping with the children’s department. Also, she was involved with the Awana program where she was named Awana of the Year for 3 years. On top of that, Alyssa enjoys volunteering her time at the Jamestown community dinner. She is a true gift to our community.
Chloe is an 8th grade student involved in many programs at OJHS. Chloe volunteers her time to be a part of the leadership program. In addition, she thinks of great ideas to better her school and community, and follows through with those activities. She was chosen as one of the three students that are on the school site council and has been active in California Junior Scholarship Federation for 2 years.
Outside of school, Chloe goes to church at House Modesto and is a Travel Club Volleyball player. During the summer, she helped the volleyball coach work with the incoming 7th graders to get them ready for tryouts by teaching them some basic skills. Chloe is looking forward to high school and being involved in clubs and helping more in the community. We will be seeing lots of great things from this young student.
Eighteen-year old Stephanie Kupper has a deep love for Oakdale. Even at a young age, Stephanie created a program with her sister to gather needed items around town and donate them to the Oakdale Animal Shelter. Whether she is saving stray animals or volunteering her time to work at events, she is an active member in the community.
Stephanie constantly works to raise funds for Relay For Life, Oakdale Community Sharing, Sierra View Music Festival, helps with Oakdale Community Cleanup, and the Christmas CanTree with her mother. She is always counted on to lead and pitch in. While volunteering at the local Farmer’s Market with the Animal Shelter, she came across the ASTRO Foundation. Not only does she now continue to work as a volunteer for our local animal shelter, she recently established and is the charter President of “The ASTRO Club” at OHS. This is a club that works hand-in-hand with the ASTRO foundation and focuses on saving the lives of abandoned animals, giving them a second chance, and supporting the construction of a no kill shelter in Oakdale. This very successful chapter has grown to over 30 plus members and has placed, on average, four shelter dogs and cats each weekend, in foster and/or forever homes. Stephanie helps raise awareness for the extensive need of homes, funds, and improvements for animals.
Stephanie is also a scholar athlete. All throughout high school, she has maintained excellent grades, numerous extracurricular activities, and has competed in dance for 16 years. She is now at the Worlds level, competing locally, nationally and internationally. Stephanie has led her dance teams to multiple National and Grand National championship titles and has also had the privilege of leading the OHS volleyball team, as the team captain for two years, winning a VOL Championship this year. She will now take her desire, hard work ethic, competitive spirit and compassion for others with her as she begins her career in veterinary medicine.
Anna is a proven leader, whether as an athlete or as ASB President. Leadership has really shaped her high school experience, helped her to further develop positive character traits, and establish many great relationships with students and teachers. Anna stays active with varsity cross country, track and basketball teams, and is a member of S Club, Gay-Straight Alliance, California Scholarship Federation, Link Crew, Students in Action, Rotary International Interact, and Model United Nations.
Anna is a great supporter of Oakdale events and is constantly volunteering her time through organizations like: Oakdale Educational Foundation, Stonecliffe Animal Rescue, donating hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths program which creates wigs for cancer patients, a clinic instructor for Oakdale Parks & Recreation, and much more. Some of Anna’s accomplishments include having two original designs selected for submission to Betabrand’s Think Tank for the Women’s Design Summit, participating in Sutter Health’s Memorial Medical Center Cancer Awareness Run & Ride and Kim Stogdell Memorial Triathlon. These are just a few of the reasons why Anna was nominated for 2014 Junior Achievement.
Pre-sale tickets for the Friday night dinner are available for $40 per person at the Chamber of Commerce office, 590 N. Yosemite or by going online to the Chamber website. Tickets at the door the night of the event will cost $50 per person.
Also to be announced at the awards banquet are winners of the Citizen of the Year award, nominees are Frank Burke, Christie Camarillo, Lloyd Kjos and Jaydeen Vicente and the Community Service Award nominees are Oakdale Rotary Club and Oakdale Senior Citizens Foundation.