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5 Bay Area Jefferson Award Winners Earn Silver Medals For Public Service

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2012 Bay Area Jefferson Award recipients (CBS)

2012 Bay Area Jefferson Award recipients (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Some of the Bay Area’s most giving community members were honored by CBS in San Francisco Tuesday during a ceremony at the Herbst Theater.

The annual Jefferson Award silver medal ceremony honored five standouts in local community service who will now have the chance to be invited to Washington, D.C. to attend an evening gala with regional winners from around the country.

In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard founded the American Institute for Public Service to establish a Nobel Prize for public and community service – The Jefferson Awards.

Jefferson Awards recipients are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward. By honoring the recipients, it is the goal of the Jefferson Awards to inspire others to become involved in community and public service.

The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. National award recipients represent a “Who’s Who” of outstanding Americans. This year’s Bay Area honorees are:

Father John Brenkle
For three decades, Father Brenkle has been tireless in his fight to get wine country farm workers warm, safe places to live. By organizing growers and inspiring voters, he has helped build three farm worker housing centers where nearly 200 workers get bedrooms, meals, and hot showers.
St. Helena Catholic Church, 1340 Tainter Street, Saint Helena, CA 94574

Oral Lee Brown
It was 1987 when Oral Lee made her first promise to a classroom full of Oakland kids: if they studied hard, she’d pay for them to go to college. She dug into her own savings to make it happen, and all these years later, she’s helped more than 100 young students reach for higher education.
Oral Lee Brown Foundation

Cathryn Couch
As a professional chef, Cathryn devised the ideal recipe for supporting her Sonoma County community: train students to cook healthy, organic food, and deliver the meals to seriously ill patients. The Ceres Community Project was born and has now served 900 families more than 130,000 meals.
The Ceres Community Project

Lisa Markey Giraldi
Lisa was inspired by her own aunt’s experience to create more inclusion for people with developmental disabilities. She founded Pacific Diversified Services (PDS) to coordinate activities, job placement, day trips, classes, and more for dozens of clients who stay connected to the organization for a lifetime.
Pacific Diversified Services

Mark Ruefenacht
A diabetic himself, Mark was amazed to discover dogs can smell a potentially dangerous change in a human’s blood sugar level. He quickly put his science skills to work on research and launched the nonprofit Dogs4Diabetics to train canines to watch over their diabetic human companions.
Dogs4Diabetics

The national award winners will be honored in Washington in June. For more information or to nominate a quiet hero, visit the Jefferson Awards Page.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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