Pride in volunteerism was the theme of Tuesday night's mayoral installation and community service awards, as town officials and volunteers expressed gratitude for the altruistic nature of Danville residents. Nineteen people and groups were honored with plaques for their service to various commissions, departments and valley residents.
"We're here as an entire council that is in consensus about the values brought to our town," said outgoing mayor Karen Stepper. "These are amazing people that go way beyond the job for Danville…We love you and thank you for what you do."
The town community center was packed with people for the 30th annual ceremony, which ushered in Candace Andersen for her second term as mayor and Newell Arnerich as vice mayor. Andersen said she was honored to be elected mayor in a truly "unique, caring community."
That spirit of caring was apparent in the vast array of award recipients -- which ranged from WWII heroes to an 8-year-old fundraiser. The town gave three awards for volunteer of the year, seven awards of merit and two special awards.
"It's always a great honor to be recognized for something you love doing so much," said Harry Hubinger who, with his wife Barbara, was awarded the volunteer of the year award for his with the Danville Police Department.
Others were recognized for enhancing the arts in Danville. California High School's Barbara Farmer is responsible for creating the school district's elementary visual arts curriculum and, according to district spokesman Terry Koehne, "fights to keep the fine arts vibrant and alive in the community."
"I'm pretty humbled to be among the people honored here. It's really an honor to be part of keeping creativity in our schools," Farmer said.
In addition to recognizing outgoing commissioners, members of the Town Council lauded residents for four, eight, 12 and 20 years of service on various commissions with special service awards. Councilmember Mike Doyle was among the recipients and is one of only three people to receive a 20-year award.
"Each and every day I wake up and thank God for allowing me to be part of this community…part of this great team. I'm looking forward to keep doing it," the four-time mayor said before receiving a gold watch.
The Danville Award, which is awarded to an "exceptional individual or group of people", was awarded to Exchange Club of the San Ramon Valley for its preservation efforts, scholarships and traveling Freedom Shrine. The group is comprised of more than 40 members who are responsible for putting on Sept. 11 commemorative ceremonies and hosting youth debate forums.
San Ramon Valley High sophomore Turner Stanton was also awarded for embodying the "spirit of town over self." The 16-year-old received the third annual Michael K. Shimansky Community Service Award for his work as a youth representative on the Parks and Leisure Services Commission and efforts to coordinate an educational event about cyber bullying for the SRV Community Resource Network.
"It's so amazing that a 16-year-old can sit with a group of adults and they're very open minded. That's what defines Danville," he said.
The two-hour ceremony concluded with remembrances from Karen Stepper and a reception in the town library. Mayor Candace Andersen encouraged attendees to stay connected, assuring that 2012 will be an exciting year.
"This is a year to be involved," she said, adding that the town will be finishing its general plan and proposing business initiatives. "Your voices need to be heard."