Recognizing Local Heroes

Whether they're grocery shopping for a neighbor or volunteering for a nonprofit, these amazing locals have gone above and beyond to make a difference in our community.


Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto
For over 95 years, the Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto has served the City of Palo Alto and dozens of non-profit groups with both financial support and hands-on service projects ranging from rebuilding and painting facilities at local parks and maintaining the Duck Pond, to planting trees and refurbishing preschool facilities. During the pandemic, the group has made targeted donations to needy groups and distributed educational materials, household goods, and protective equipment to the home-bound.
— Submitted by: Judy Deggeller

Maria Martinez
"Maria exemplifies the best in community service to the residents at Buena Vista Mobile Park. She partners with PAUSD, donors, and volunteers to ensure children get school lunches and families receive canned foods, fresh vegetables and fruit. Maria promotes community health during this pandemic.
— Submitted by: Amado M Padilla

Akif Aydin
Akif Aydin, proprietor of Café Pro Bono, is a Local Hero. We dine at his restaurant often and have noted his kindness and consideration to his staff and customers. For years, one elderly gentleman dined at Pro Bono every day. When he became ill Akif personally drove meals to his house. We've watched him step out onto the street to stop traffic if someone needs assistance. Akif is always there to make sure everyone, famous folk, repeat diners, or newcomers, felt at home and well taken care of. His kindness has been appreciated and noticed.
— Submitted by: Ann and Andy Protter

Rina Bello
Rina puts the needs of others first. As the head of non-profit Bay Area Cancer Connections, she has ensured that thousands of breast and ovarian cancer clients, and BACC volunteers, have received personal calls to check in during this time of shelter in place. She has rapidly transformed BACC services into virtual, video, and conference call offerings, and always works tirelessly to keep the services free of charge to our community. Thank you, Rina!
— Submitted by: Karlette Warner

The Gamble Garden Volunteers
A sincere THANK YOU to the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden Volunteers! We are grateful to the 400 volunteers who contribute over 35,000 hours every year. We would also like to thank especially the wonderful weekly “Dirty Knees” Garden Volunteers. The Dirty Knees are back at work, helping to ensure our garden is safe and beautiful for everyone who visits. The volunteers and staff are dedicated to maintaining and enhancing our historic house and garden as an oasis of beauty and tranquility while also providing a community resource for horticultural education, inspiration, and enjoyment. Gamble Garden is a non-profit organization, open-gate garden, free to all our Bay Area neighbors every day. The garden is located at 1431 Waverley Street, Palo Alto. Learn more at GambleGarden.org/volunteer.
— Submitted by: Jennifer Smith & Roger Smith

Butch Garcia
Butch is a tireless supporter of Gunn athletics as he gives countless hours of his time photographing and cheering on the athletes. Long after his own children graduated, he has continued to take thousands of photos. During the past eleven years, Butch has attended countless games to capture that special moment of the team, the athletes and their families. We are lucky to have you as part of the Gunn family! Thank you, Butch.
— Submitted by: Gunn Sports Boosters

Karen Ambrose Hickey
Karen shares her love of photography. Due to COVID-19, Paly spring athletic teams didn't have photos for the yearbook. Therefore, Karen created team photos using head shots taken at a safe distance and from past seasons. We thank Karen for volunteering her time to create lifetime memories!
— Submitted by: Rebecca Passarello

Emel Mutlu and her wonderful staff
The Market at Edgewood is a wonderful and responsive community resource because of its owner, Emel. The staff is gracious, customer-focused and adapted quickly to the crisis by creating new services such as curbside pickup and delivery. I am so grateful to have a local market I can feel safe shopping in during this crisis. Emel and the team really have gone above and beyond!
— Submitted by: Julie Jerome

Greer Stone
Greer Stone serves our community in multiple roles. Greer teaches Social Studies at Gunn, fights for social justice as the Vice-Chair of the Santa Clara County Human Rights Commission, and cares for his neighbors as a Block Preparedness Coordinator. During this pandemic, he has delivered groceries/prescriptions for the at-risk, organized community Zoom meetings to promote emotional wellbeing, wrote an inspiring guest opinion for this paper, all while continuing to teach our children.
— Submitted by: Arthur Keller

Bruce Gee
Bruce does so much for so many! He has been growing beautiful, organic tomato and vegetable plants, and donating them to Ada's Cafe to sell. Our customers look forward to coming to Ada's Garden to shop. This year, Bruce's generosity has helped Ada's be relevant and generate some revenue.
— Submitted by: Kathleen Foley-Hughes

Veronica Calderon
Veronica is a front-line worker at The Market at Edgewood. She is so caring, gracious and professional. Veronica has made social distancing a friendly experience and always has kind words for customers. The Market is such a great addition to Palo Alto providing great quality food and community.
— Submitted by: Kathleen Foley-Hughes

Liz Prado
When the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula (BGCP) had to cease youth programming due to COVID-19, BGCP Chef Liz Prado had an idea: Use our clubhouse kitchens to feed local families. Within days, Liz trained staff members, recruited cooks, and launched the BGCP meal program, which now distributes 2,500 dinners each night. With her competence, experience and positivity, Liz provides hope for people in her hometown of East Palo Alto and beyond.
— Submitted by: Victoria Thorp

Valerie Campos
Amid COVID-19 restrictions, Valerie Campos, director of adult services at the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, pivoted to mobility classes via telephone and talks on Zoom. As a Vista client/board member, I'm inspired by a can-do spirit that touches the most vulnerable among us.
— Submitted by: Joan Desmond

Cammie Vail
Cammie Vail (shown above at the podium) is the current Executive Director at the Palo Alto Community Fund. She has gone above and beyond during this time of crisis. In addition to her normal fundraising work, she has guided PACF to raise and distribute an additional $500,000 for direct financial relief to our local underserved population and to further support non-profits in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto since the start of the shelter-in-place orders.
— Submitted by: Leonard Ely

William Warrior
I had the pleasure of working with local hero, William Warrior, at the former Palo Alto Animal Services. I have always been fascinated by his passion for work, animals, history, and Taiko. When we walked in the Palo Alto May Fête parade together, he was like a rock star — people cheered and shouted his name. After more than 40 years of public service at ACO, he is retiring. He's a legend in this community as an active volunteer and author.
— Submitted by: Sachi Hwangbo

Bruce Gee
Bruce cannot say no. He is very involved in the Palo Alto community. He is on the board of the Palo Alto Community Fund and the Palo Alto Rotary Club. When asked he always says yes -- "I CAN DO IT." He gets it done in record time always with a big smile.
— Submitted by: Roger Smith

Blas Lozano
Blas, our wonderful mailman, has been delivering our mail since the ‘80s. He calls us by name, sometimes sings to us, and always has a cheerful hello. He watches out for us, making sure we are safe. And, he plays the sax with his band at our summer block paries (Blas is shown above on the right)
— Submitted by: Kipling 3300 ESVs and Cool Block Team

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