The wait is almost over for a number of nominees, in the running for the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce awards, with the Annual Awards Dinner set for this Friday, Jan. 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Bianchi Community Center.
The Chamber will recognize outstanding individuals, organizations, and businesses that have contributed their time and effort to enhance the community. The Large and Small Business nominees can be found on Page A3 of this week’s issue. Previously, the Junior Achievement and Community Service Award nominees have been profiled.
Scheduled to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award is Don Riise and three local residents have been nominated as the Citizen of the Year – Cherilyn Bairos, Pamela Kelly and Pete Simoncini.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is the only one announced ahead of time – all others are revealed at the awards night program.
“This event is special each year with the amazing nominees from our community,” said Chamber Executive Director Mary Guardiola. “Congratulations to all the nominees for being recognized by your community.”
Following are brief biographies of the Citizen of the Year nominees.
Cherilyn Bairos is a lifelong resident of Oakdale; Cher has volunteered her time in our Oakdale community for years, currently serving on the Oakdale City Council. She has been instrumental in creating some new programs in Oakdale, including the new Oakdale Soccer Club, organizing multiple fundraisers for the Club, and spearheaded the recent Oakdale Christmas Parade. She participates and actively attends nearly all of the community events in our town.
The creation of the Oakdale Soccer Club provided positive and safe opportunities to children from age four through 18 a chance to play soccer. Cher, along with her family worked tirelessly to advertise, coordinate, fundraise and provide Soccer Club activities for over 650 children in our community.
A very successful new sport club in Oakdale, for children pre-school up, including Parent Coaches, and the player’s parents who volunteered to help with the fundraising events, at each game with the Snack Shack while also helping with the kids. The club has brought together children and adults that promote community and team work.
Cher Bairos has been involved in a variety of activities in Oakdale for many years. She is the best ambassador our community could have. She’s always promoting Oakdale events and information on social media. She’s great at connecting people together and helping any one she comes into contact with. She is one that will most always say “Yes” when asked to help with any community event.
Pamela has been a CAPS volunteer for six years. The purpose of the Police Department volunteers is to have “Citizens and Police” working together to assist residents in making Oakdale a safer and more attractive community in which to live. Pamela is a volunteer for Senior Outreach (division of CAPS). That program is designed to assist the elderly of our community with issues such as health, safety and resources. In 2016, Pamela volunteered 189 hours and as of October 2017 she had volunteered 268 hours.
Along with her weekly hours as a CAPS volunteer, Pamela has been volunteering countless hours every week to prepare, serve and organize meals for our many homeless and at-risk neighbors in Oakdale. She provides overnight and supportive leadership to nearly every meal served on both Fridays and Sundays, as well as numerous resources and counseling times with our homeless friends to take them wherever needed. Pamela has been a board member of Oakdale Rescue Mission since its inception in 2005.
Volunteers with the Police Department save the city of Oakdale thousands of dollars each fiscal year. They are an added resource to assist with daily operations of keeping our city safe and officers on the street. CAPS make the daily run to the DA’s office, Dept. of Justice, Adults and juvenile courts, traffics control. Senior Outreach visits the elderly in our community who have no family in the area or family who don’t care about their well being. Volunteers help to make life better by providing seniors with resources to make them comfortable in their home.
Pamela is an amazing woman who encourages, great role model, patient, organized, great sense of humor and very caring with a big heart. CAPS all admire her for her strength, compassion, work ethic and her positive outlook on life. Her tireless efforts and persistent compassion for our homeless community has inspired so many in our community to get more involved. Pamela is the driving force and heart behind a growing network of meal teams and developing a mentorship program. Pamela has been a tremendous spokesperson and educator for our entire community on the issues related to prevention and partnership to address this need. Pamela engages many of our local churches, social clubs and agencies as well as participating in the County’s Action Council for Prevention.
The most outstanding aspect of Pamela’s service is her combination of compassion and reliance on God’s leading to act on things. Pamela is never daunted from her vision to share hope and guidance towards improving the quality of life of our homeless friends because she knows that her God loves them even more than she does. Her strength and perseverance were extremely tested this past year when her beloved husband and partner in life for 52 years, Phil passed away. Pamela’s love for life and those around her, inspire us to be better people. She is so involved in our community to make it a better place. She sees the good and positive in people and strives to make their lives better.
Pete Simoncini is fondly referred to as “The voice of Oakdale.” I would estimate that he typically gives 10-15 hours a week to our community as an emcee for school and community events as well as other voluntary commitments.
When he is not being an emcee for Oakdale Joint Unified events, he also serves the community of Oakdale. In January he emcees the Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner. In February, the Distinguished Young Woman event for the Oakdale Soroptimst Club. In March, the Sports Boosters Dinner, dance and auction. In April, the Saturday portion of Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. In May, he announces names at the Oakdale High School graduation. In June, the St. Mary’s Golf Tournament. In September, the OEF dinner, dance and auction as well as the St. Mary’s Church International Festival. In November, the Music Boosters dinner and auction. He also has been the guest speaker for many years for the VFW Veteran’s Day Celebration at Fish Park.
When he’s not acting as an emcee, he also volunteers as lector (reader) and lay Eucharistic minister for St. Mary’s Catholic Church. In February he serves as the chair for the Diocese of Stockton Bishop’s Ministry Appeal for St. Mary’s Parish. He serves on the Bishop’s Pastoral Council, resenting St. Mary’s Parish for the Catholic Diocese of Stockton.
The response to Pete’s many emcee contributions, many school and community events were run efficiently and in a professionally entertaining way. His volunteer work is invaluable to any organization because of the reliability and professionalism. Community members, parents and students look forward to hearing “The Voice of Oakdale.”
Pete teaches Advanced Placement US History, Advanced Placement Psychology and Advanced Placement Government. Advanced Placement courses provide college level content and provide opportunities for students to earn college credit while in high school.
Pete’s teaching responsibilities typically begin at 7:30 a.m. and students leave at 2:10 p.m. He announces at home sporting events fall semester for volleyball and football. In the winter season he announces boys and girls basketball, wrestling, and boys and girls soccer. At times he cannot emcee some games because they fall on the evenings when he is teaching his class for Columbia College. In the spring, he announces track and field, baseball and softball. He receives a stipend for football, basketball and wrestling. All other activities are voluntary. In the summer, he announces a two day track meet and a four day track meet for Guy Fowler and the AAU. The four day meet is in Reno, Nevada and the two day meet is local.
Pete has taught at Oakdale High School since 2001. Prior to that Pete served 23 years in the Army, being commissioned a second lieutenant at the University of San Francisco. He was in the Infantry Branch. He served two tours in Germany with the Third Armed Division and one tour with the 82nd Airborne Division. He started the Army ROTC program at Fresno State serving there for three years and also served for two years as the Professor of Military Science at the Claremont Colleges in Southern California. He also served two tours in the Pentagon. During his first three years there, among other things he was the executive officer to Major General Bud Foster. He also served as one of the nine administrative assistants to the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army. He finished his career serving as an American Political Science Association congressional fellow and then as a member of the Army’s Congressional Liaison office. During his fellowship, he worked for Senator John Warner, a Virginia Republican.
Pete was the Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year in 2009. He was a finalist for the California Horace Mann Award in 2009. He was a nominee for the Citizen of the Year in 2005. He was a School Bell Award recipient. In the Army, he was a congressional fellow. He has two awards of the Legion of Merit, four Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, the Pentagon Staff Officers’ Badge, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Senior Parachutist’s Badge.
Tickets for the special Awards Night are $40 each in advance; $50 at the door. Tickets are available at the Oakdale Chamber office, 590 N. Yosemite Ave. You can also purchase tickets online at www.oakdalechamber.com.
For more information, call 209-847-2244.