Each year, the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce honors members of the community for Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year, Junior Achievement, Community Service, and Lifetime Achievement. The annual Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet is scheduled for this Friday and this week we profile those in the running for Junior Achievement and Community Service along with the remaining two 2016 Business of the Year nominees.
Junior Achievement Nominees
Anna is a senior at Oakdale High School (OHS) who is taking multiple advance placement courses and plans to attend Stanford University next fall. She is a member of the Varsity Tennis team, Academic Decathlon team, and Science Olympiad team, Gay/Straight Alliance Club, Service Club of Oakdale High and a Student Representative for Student Council.
Anna has been known for giving a voice to those who haven’t learned to use their own. She has a valued impact on decisions made by the OHS Student Council. With her help the Academic Decathlon team won for the 16th year straight year. Anna also spends two days a week tutoring other students.
Anna is just an all-around great student. She gives back with doing great academically, participates on the service clubs, and plays sports. She even volunteers at the animal shelter. She has been awarded a Block O, 2nd Place Fossils Science Olympiad, 1st Place Hydrogeology Award and 10 Academic Decathlon awards including 1st place in Social Science.
Blake is a sophomore at Oakdale High School (OHS) but can be found all over the community at different events promoting information about our agricultural community. He is either working for Sierra 4-H or OHS FFA or OHS ASB. In his spare time, he is showing his animals around the region. He has organized the 8th grade recruitment day at the Junior High School to promote the OHS Ag program and elementary school FFA Ag Days. He’s worked Sierra 4-H Bloomingcamp petting zoo, Sierra 4-H Downtown Petting zoo and OHS FFA can food drives.
As part of a team, Blake helps spread the knowledge of the 4-H and FFA programs. This also leads to a passion to compete in events with his animals. Blake is an example by showing his animals around the region in his spare time.
Blake is Sierra 4-H Vice President, OHS sophomore ASB Vice President, OHS FFA Reporter and he has been actively involved in building the school spirit and for getting other students into activities that the school sponsors. Blake has been involved in school leadership since the 7th grade and he has been a member of the Sierra 4-H since he was 4 years old.
Breanna has been on the honor roll most of her school life. She received many exemplary student awards in Elementary School, and Outstanding Science Student in Junior High. She was nominated and subsequently able to attend a forum at Harvard the summer after her freshman year. The time was very intense for her but she and her mother had a great time meeting many interesting people and Nobel Prize winners. In 4-H, her photograph won Best of Show and many first-place ribbons. In tennis, she has her Block O. In the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, she is a Past Worthy Advisor and this spring received her Grand Cross of Color, which is the highest honor that can be given to a girl by her assembly which takes into consideration all the service hours and activities she has done.
Breanna takes a very active part in any endeavor she pursues, whether it is varsity tennis, FFA, 4-H, Leadership in school, or the Rainbow Girls. She has been a member of the tennis team for three years, lettering last year. In FFA, she was in competition and received the Best Informed Greenhand as a freshman and in Opening and Closing Competition as a sophomore. In 4-H, she is Secretary for the second year in a row.
In the Rainbow Girls, she has learned public speaking, ritual work, poise, how to work with adults as well as teens and younger children, service to community. This organization helped in her confidence level. Breanna is a very giving person who looks out for people and is always willing to help in any way she can. She is a joiner and a participator. She loves being involved.
Luisa is cheerful, dedicated, brilliant, funny and a highly motivated eighth grader. She excels at everything she does and sets an excellent example for others, not only academically but also socially and emotionally. Luisa has maintained a 3.0 GPA throughout her junior high years. She volunteers as a teacher’s aide, and peer tutor whenever possible. In addition, she works very hard to instill hope and commitment to everyone around her. She shares information like a story book drawing everyone in. She takes a bad situation and turns it around for herself and for others. She is going to be very successful someday because of pure determination and a drive for success.
She gives herself to others with her beautiful smile as she says hello to everyone. Luisa was recognized for this nomination by being so dedicated to doing well in school and being a positive force. You can guarantee that she will serve as a role model to other students by maintaining the exemplary behavior she so naturally displays.
Community Service Nominees
The ASTRO Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to save the lives of homeless animals by engaging students in the rescue process including fostering, working adoption events, fundraising, and marketing.
The ASTRO Foundation is run entirely by volunteers who have worked tirelessly, literally putting in thousands of volunteer hours to save local homeless pets. Volunteers work 7 days a week, including weekends and evenings. The self-sacrifice required in terms of time and effort to make this foundation successful is exponential.
Over 350 local homeless pets were placed in forever homes in 2016 thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers, students, and funds provided by the community.
Over 50 local students participated in the work of the foundation in 2016. Students learn responsibility, leadership, and teamwork while enriching the community. Some of these students plan to go on to pursue careers in veterinary science.
In order to create a sustainable source of income to support these efforts, the ASTRO Thrift & Gift Shop was opened in downtown Oakdale in late 2015. In January through October of 2016, the ASTRO Foundation rescued over 400 homeless pets from the Oakdale Animal Shelter and placed over 300 in permanent homes. This would not have been possible without the time and effort donated by the board members, students, volunteers, and financial support of the community.
Children’s Guardian Home
The Guardian House was established because Elsie and August Martin wanted to do something for the community and their focus was neglected high risk children. The Martins worked tirelessly to raise more than $600,000 and with Family Support Network and Oak Valley Hospital establish a partnership that would build the Children’s Guardian Home. A house along F Street was purchased and renovated to create a safe and stabilizing environment the children needed.
The 5,000-square-foot home has seven bedrooms and six bathrooms, it has sleeping quarters for up to 30 children but can provide services for up to 50 during the day. Many of the children housed are under the age of 10.
Children up to 17-years-old can receive care at Guardian House but teens are screened and most children at the shelter are younger. They can stay overnight if needed and there is no limit to how long children can stay at Guardian House. The home itself is huge, with play space and multiple bedrooms on both floors. Every room is decorated with a kid-friendly theme and there are murals on almost every wall.
The home-like feel extends to meals too, which are all prepared on-site by a nutritionist. Many of the children who spend time at Guardian House have never experienced a clean and orderly home with so many toys and food available.
Stanislaus River Watch
The Stanislaus River Watch is a group of community volunteers that work together monthly to clean the riparian habitat of trash and debris. This effort keeps the river healthy for wildlife, kayakers, rafters, swimmers, hikers and people who enjoy fishing.
The group began monthly river cleanup efforts in February 2016 on the first Saturday of every month. Their efforts have brought together multiple agencies with community volunteers that not only help to keep the river clean but also incrementally help to improve the vagrancy in the area. This group of volunteers varies in size each month, but 10 to 20 volunteers continue to help on a regular basis.
The Stanislaus River Watch group coordinates their efforts with the Oakdale Police Department, Stanislaus County Sheriff, Caltrans, US Army Corp of Engineers, and the Department of Fish & Game to ensure the area is safe for the volunteers and to ensure the homeless down by the river are given fair warning.
In the first six months, they collected and disposed of over 10 tons of trash, garbage and debris. This river in its pristine natural beauty supports abundant wildlife and provides a beautiful environment for nature lovers to hike, kayak, fish and swim.
Business of the Year Nominees (Continued)
Oakdale Grocery Outlet
Oakdale Grocery Outlet opened its doors in June of 2012 by Kathy and Carl LaForce. Oakdale Grocery Outlet is a family owned business and Kathy and Carl can be seen every day working for and greeting their customers. They believe this is a community store and the LaForces would like everyone to feel welcome.
Grocery Outlet’s core mission is “Touching lives for the better.” This mission is a big part of their culture, from corporate headquarters, to store owner operators, and store employees. One of the ways they give back to the communities is through Independence from Hunger, a yearly food drive sponsored in July. Independence from Hunger brings together Grocery Outlet stores and their customers to help feed people in their local communities who are facing hunger and food insecurity. This year the program raised over $6,000 for our local food bank.
Often Oakdale Grocery Outlet will provide donations like a 2 minute in-store shopping spree or supply products to local fundraisers and organizations. This year they provided Petarama for ASTRO Foundation with a $10 gift card to Grocery Outlet to everyone that adopted a new pet. Oakdale Grocery Outlet purchased $2500 in meat from Oakdale FFA kids, had the meat processed locally and passed on the savings to their customers. Oakdale Jr. High PTA, Taste of Oakdale, Testicle Festival, Toys for Tots, Lions Club and Coats for Kids is just a small selection of groups and events they have donated to this year.
Oakdale Veterinary Group
Oakdale Veterinary Group was Oakdale’s first veterinary hospital when it opened its doors in 1979. Since its earliest days, the Hospital has earned a reputation for its compassionate and client-centered service. Today, Oakdale Veterinary Group is a full-service, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital offering a wide range of services to our clients and their four-legged friends.
Oakdale Veterinary Group is being nominated for its excellent veterinary care to the homeless pets of ASTRO Foundation since ASTRO began rescuing cats and dogs from the Oakdale Animal Shelter in 2014. Much of this care has been provided free of charge, and the staff has worked many extra hours during this time to ensure the homeless pets of our community receive the care they need.
Oakdale Veterinary Group currently has over 9,000 active pet patients. In order to continue meeting the growing needs of Oakdale and the surrounding community, they have added veterinary and technician staff and expanded hours of operation. This has enabled Oakdale Veterinary Group to serve the community more efficiently and provide excellence in care. Also in 2016, Oakdale Veterinary Group became accredited by AAHA, the American Animal Hospital Association. Only 12 percent of veterinary hospitals nationwide have earned this accreditation, which sets a very high standard of excellence in all aspects of business and medical programs.
Since 2014, Oakdale Veterinary Group has donated approximately $28,000 worth of goods and services to the ASTRO Foundation. Since ASTRO has grown exponentially in the past year, over half of this was gifted in 2016. Jill Cadmus DVM, co-owner of Oakdale Veterinary Group, has provided her time and expertise to help ASTRO, serving as their Director of Veterinary Services since 2014. With her help and under use of her veterinary license, ASTRO is able to purchase many vaccines, medications, and supplies at a non-profit discount directly from manufacturers.
For more information about Friday’s awards banquet, call the Chamber of Commerce at 847-2244.