With the Spirit of Sunnyside and Grandview Chamber of Commerce awards just behind us, I wanted to add my own list of names to the number of dedicated citizens and organizations making our world a better place.
I don't really have an overall title for my awards, but I feel it is important to recognize those whom I believe make a difference.
I came up with these awards because of the various interactions I have within the communities the Daily Sun News serves, but some are more personal.
My "I'll Fight for What I Believe is Right" award goes to Sunnyside Councilman Don Vlieger for his unrelenting and unabashed arguments in an attempt to find out who in the city's employ was given legal and/or illegal pay raises.
He also believes strongly in creating a gang task force to assist in gang suppression efforts.
Vlieger proudly argues with those who disagree with his methods, but his methods are intended to make Sunnyside a better place.
Not everyone sees eye-to-eye with the way in which he may approach a controversial matter, but Vlieger makes certain his viewpoint is made clear.
Next I would like to recognize Cornerstone Assembly of God Church and Pastor Bob Widmann with the "Uplifting Others" award.
The Sunnyside church works hard to provide fun, entertaining events for community members, including the youth. It organizes and hosts family-friendly concerts that are free for anyone to attend.
Widmann has also opened the doors of the church to other organizations for meetings, such as the anti-gang initiative and community meetings regarding sexual and domestic violence.
My "Science Hero" award goes to Sunnyside High School teacher Joyce Stark.
She loves teaching science and she makes every effort to make it fun for students throughout the community.
Stark organizes the annual Sunnyside Science Fair and she opens her classroom to students wanting to make science the focus of their senior projects. She has also, on non-school days, provided students the use of her classroom in preparation for the annual science fair.
In addition, she annually recognizes mole day (a scientific term) with fun activities and creative wardrobes.
My "Thanks for Loving My Kids" award goes to Lori (she knows her last name).
This woman has for years embraced my three rugrats with love and kindness. She doesn't send them home at dinnertime, but feeds them alongside her own family.
Lori is kind and generous, never complaining about the number of visits my children make to her home.
She generously provides them transportation to church or youth group. She also found my oldest child a lawn-mowing job.
Speaking of youngsters, I am naming Sunnyside's Promise and the Sunnyside School District as the co-winners of my "Raising Kids' Spirits" award.
The Sunnyside School District has been for years looking at every way in which it can help the youngsters in the community both academically and socially.
The school district has partnered with Sunnyside's Promise since the organization first came on the scene 12 years ago. The partnership has always been about providing youth with a healthy start in life, safe places, caring adults, skill-building and opportunities for youth to give back.
I have one final award, again a shared award. It is the "Doing All We Can" award.
I am recognizing law enforcement agencies throughout the Lower Valley for doing everything they can to protect and serve the citizens of the community.
Sometimes, I believe police, deputies and troopers receive little to no recognition for their efforts. Too often community members want the crimes committed to be solved in a quick and fashionable manner like seen on television crime shows. Reality has too many harsh truths to delve into, but the police working in the Lower Valley are honorable and hardworking individuals intent on putting the bad guys in jail.
They would love to nab the criminals quickly and efficiently, but the evidence must be present to make the charges stick. Also, legislation, such as a law that specifies the manner in which a search warrant must be obtained, limits abilities of officers often times.
My hat's off to all the individuals working and volunteering their time to make the Lower Valley a better place, one we can be proud to call home.