LA-LAH honor volunteers at luncheon

Bruce Barton/Town Crier
This year’s Joint Community Volunteer Service Award winners include, from left, front row: Bob Galen, Diane Schmidt, Jerry Moison, Sherie Dodsworth and Lani Dorff. Back: Nancy Schneider, Linda Eckols and, representing MVLA Scholars, Dee Gibson and Janet Tornow.

The Los Altos-Los Altos Hills Joint Community Volunteer Service Awards Committee recognized eight volunteers with the coveted honor at the 35th annual awards luncheon Friday.

The eight honorees, nominated by a host of area nonprofit organizations, bring the grand total to 325 award recipients since the event’s inception in 1983.

Tom Myers, executive director of Community Services Agency of Mountain View and Los Altos, served as keynote speaker.

Myers, a longtime Los Altos resident, stressed the importance of collaboration in the nonprofit world to maximize effectiveness in serving others. He cited as an example Hope’s Corner, a joint effort among Mountain View Trinity and Los Altos United Methodist churches and CSA that provides free breakfasts and bag lunches to the homeless every Saturday. CSA also works with Hope’s Corner to provide showers at Trinity on Saturdays.

Longtime community volunteer Dennis Young served as master of ceremonies of the event, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Palo Alto.

This year’s honorees include:

• Bob Galen, for his longtime work with the Kiwanis Club of Los Altos and the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce. A CPA by trade, Galen’s financial expertise has enhanced his volunteerism.

“There is no job too small or too big” for Galen, according to the people who nominated him for the award.

• Diane Schmidt, for her work with the Friends of the Library of Los Altos and CSA.

“She’s one of these volunteers you would want to clone because she can handle any job and any responsibility, and she’s easy to get along with,” one of her supporters said.

• Jerry Moison, for his eight years of service on the Los Altos Planning Commission and his 21 years with the Rotary Club of Los Altos. Young said Moison “brings a generous and caring spirit to the process. He’s always well prepared.”

A supporter of the Veterans Resource Center at Foothill College, Moison is involved with plans to construct a Los Altos Rotary Veterans Plaza on the campus by next spring.

• Sherie Dodsworth, for her vigorous efforts in preparing neighborhoods to confront the challenges in the wake of a natural disaster or other emergency. She has worked with the city of Los Altos and Los Altos Community Foundation, “passionately giving her time and effort,” according to a supporter.

“She’s the true embodiment of grassroots service and the idea of neighbors helping neighbors,” Young said of Dodsworth.

• Lani Dorff, for her 30-plus years of helping the area’s youth, culminating in the launch of Sky’s the Limit Fund in 2010. The nonprofit organization she co-founded with Rochelle Bochner raises money to help youth in crisis and their families afford therapeutic wilderness camps. Dorff also is a longtime volunteer with Los Altos Community Foundation. A supporter recognized her as “a leader, a role model, a humble and positive individual.”

• MVLA Scholars, an all-volunteer organization founded in 2000 that has provided scholarships and mentoring to more than 345 low-income, college-bound students. Janet Tornow and Dee Gibson accepted the award on the organization’s behalf.

• Linda Eckols, for her extensive volunteer work with the Los Altos History Museum and Mentor Tutor Connection. The former Los Altos School District teacher and principal was “naturally drawn” to her volunteer vehicles, a supporter said. Among her museum duties, she conducted tours for schoolchildren. She has contributed her leadership skills to Mentor Tutor Connection, which served 433 students via 167 volunteers last year.

• Nancy Schneider, for her more than 20 years of work for the Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade Association.

“She’s always ready and willing to help,” a supporter said. “Her magical touch and dedication is a major reason the parade continues to enjoy yearly success.”

Schneider’s service has benefited the parade in a variety of ways, from fundraising to event planning and work on the parade floats. She also has helped the Chamber of Commerce with its annual Fall Festival and has volunteered at the Los Altos History Museum.

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