Community Champions

May 2017 Community Champion Kristina Harju

Kristina HarjuAs one way to highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my office features a “Community Champion” every month. The champion can be an individual, a group, an organization or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.

This month's Community Champion is Kristina Harju. She is the programs manager for the nonprofit Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) and oversees most of its programs, including the Hospitality House shelter, transitional housing and the mental health wellness and homelessness services.

Kristina was born and raised in Fort Bragg. She overcame her own mental health challenges, trauma, substance abuse and homelessness through utilizing many local services including those of the MCHC.

During the past few years Kristina has risen through the ranks at MCHC through her hard work and perseverance, and always with compassion shining through all her work. She has sought out opportunities to increase her knowledge through study and has spent many weekends traveling to mental health recovery classes. As a result, Kristina has brought two well-regarded courses to the MCHC, which she facilitates, that were not available on the Mendocino coast before – “NAMI Peer-to-Peer" and "Wellness Recovery Action Plan."

Kristina is the backbone of the services to the homeless and mentally ill in Fort Bragg and a tireless advocate for those in need. She coaches and mentors her own staff and volunteers in her spare time to help out at the homeless shelter. Kristina also knows how important it is to have performance statistics on the center’s services and spends countless hours completing data reports without a word of complaint.

Kristina is a role model for others. She is a quiet-spoken and modest person who is an unsung hero in our community.

In her home life Kristina is raising her daughter and caring for her elderly mother in their downtown Fort Bragg home. Her faith is a strong element of her life.

If you have a recommendation for “Community Champions,” please send their name, along with information about their good work, to ruth.valenzuela@asm.ca.gov or call (707) 463-5770.

 

April 2017 Community Champion Russell Johnson

As one way to highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my office features a “Community Champion” every month. The champion can be an individual, a group, an organization or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.

This month's Community Champion is Russell Johnson. Russell Johnson is a retired radiology technician who volunteers his time delivering meals to seniors in Humboldt County.

April 2017 Community Champion Russell JohnsonThe Senior Nutrition Program is very fortunate to have someone like Russell on its volunteer team at the Humboldt Senior Resource Center. Russell joined the organization more than five years ago, and in his role he delivers meals to home-bound seniors in the community. Rain or shine, Russell brings both nutritious food and much happiness to the lives of these seniors. As important as the meals are, Russell's weekly check-ins with his participants are also critical, as often he is the only person his seniors may see throughout the day. His deliveries are the highlight of the day or week for many of these participants, and Russell treats them all with the respect, care and compassion they deserve.

Russell is a strong advocate for the home-delivered meals program as well as for the entire agency.   His advocacy and passion have resulted in financial contributions to the Home Delivered Meals Program.

Russell and his wife Patti moved to Eureka in 1978. Patti is also an active volunteer in the community serving as an ombudsman. When not delivering meals or promoting the home-delivered meal program, Russell and Patti can be found taking care of their “little green oasis” in Eureka. They also enjoy spending time with their two grandchildren who live in Redding.

If you have a recommendation for “Community Champions,” please send their name, along with information about their good work, to ruth.valenzuela@asm.ca.gov or call (707) 463-5770.

 

March 2017 Community Champion Herman J. Hernandez

March 2017 Community Champion Herman J. HernandezAs one way to highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my office features a “Community Champion” every month. The champion can be an individual, a group, an organization or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.

This month's Community Champion is Herman J. Hernández.

Herman is a proud Rotarian and believes that it is important to give back to the community by giving service above self. He has served on the board of the Russian River Park and Recreation District since 1975 and is chairman and founder of Los Cien Sonoma County.

Los Cien is Sonoma County’s largest Latino leadership organization that reaches out to more than 850 Latino community leaders and promotes civic involvement and voter registration among Latinos. His work with the organization helps increase the Latino presence by engaging the Latino community on important issues like climate change, education, immigration and affordable housing. The organization also helps empower Latino youth by teaching leadership skills that help them become more active participants in their communities. 

Mr. Hernández is a real estate broker and owner of a local real estate business. His lifelong goal was to make Guerneville his permanent residence and in 1970, he made it a reality, moving from San Francisco after many years of summer vacations in Guerneville with his family. He has been a community member of the Russian River area for more than 40 years. Herman has been recognized many times for his hard work in the community. He was awarded the North Bay Leadership Award, the Luther Burbank of the Arts Community Service Award and the Sonoma County Spirit Award.

Herman’s love and hard work for our community is an inspiration to all. I am proud to represent such a dedicated and passionate individual.

If you have a recommendation for “Community Champions,” please send their name, along with information about their good work, to ruth.valenzuela@asm.ca.gov or call (707) 463-5770.

 


February 2017 Community Champion Neil Davis

February 2017 Community Champion Neil DavisAs one way to highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my office features a “Community Champion” every month. The champion can be an individual, a group, an organization or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.

This month's Community Champion is Neil Davis. Neil is a registered nurse who has worked at the Ukiah Valley Medical Center. He is also a Director for Walk & Bike Mendocino as well as the Ukiah Valley Trail Group.   

Neil instituted “Walk and Bike Mendocino,” a program of North Coast Opportunities in Ukiah. This program promotes walking and biking as a primary transportation choice for short distance travel in Mendocino County. Walk and Bike staff support walking and biking governmental policies and infrastructure, provide public education and collaborate with other organizations working on similar or related projects to meet the shared goal.

Neil and his wife Andrea conceived the idea for and started the Ukiah Valley Trail Group. This group is a volunteer organization comprised of individuals and participating organizations dedicated to preserving, enhancing and establishing trails in inland Mendocino County. Working with the City of Ukiah, the Ukiah Valley Trail Group’s “From City Dump to Community Park” project was just awarded $25,000 from State Farm Insurance.

Neil’s work in this community is an inspiration to all. I am so proud to represent such a dedicated and passionate individual.

If you have a recommendation for “Community Champions,” please send their name, along with information about their good work, to ruth.valenzuela@asm.ca.gov or call (707) 463-5770.

 

 

 


January 2017 Community Champion Jen Rice

Jen RiceAs one way to highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my office features a “Community Champion” every month. The champion can be an individual, a group, an organization or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.

This month's Community Champion is Jen Rice. Jen has called the north coast home for almost 30 years and has spent most of those years working in the nonprofit sector working with individuals, organizations and communities to turn their visions into reality and transform how to solve problems together. Jen is a natural resources professional and loves the rivers, high wild places and myriad of peoples who make the north coast, as she says, “a glorious place to call home.” Jen serves as Director of Community Strategies for the Humboldt Area Foundation which is a community foundation of and for the citizens of the Humboldt, Trinity and Wild Rivers regions. It promotes and encourages generosity, leadership and inclusion to strengthen the community.

Jen graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Natural Resources, specializing in planning and interpretation. She currently serves on the Advisory Group of the Cascadia Center for Leadership and the Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters’ Association.

In her prior position with the Natural Resources Services Division of RCAA, Jen led several projects including completing a study of potential land and water access improvements to and around Humboldt Bay for the State Coastal Conservancy; preparing route recommendations for five miles of waterfront trail and a promenade; and led the gathering of field data, public participation, planning and project recommendations for the Humboldt County Regional Pedestrian Needs project.

Thank you Jen Rice for everything you do for our community – I am honored to represent someone who is dedicated to bringing all stakeholders together to solve problems and make the north coast a great place to live.

If you have a recommendation for a “Community Champion,” please send their name, along with information about their good work, to ruth.valenzuela@asm.ca.gov or call (707) 463-5770.

 

 


December 2016 Community Champion Paula Cohen

As one way to highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my office features a “Community Champion” every month. The champion can be an individual, a group, an organization or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.

This month's Community Champion is Paula Cohen who has dedicated her career to public health. She is a University of California Los Angeles alumna and began her career managing medical record departments in hospitals including the Kaiser facility in Santa Rosa. She recently retired from her role as Executive Director for the Mendocino Coast Clinics, which she helped transition from a county-operated clinic to a private nonprofit entity.

Mendocino Coast Clinics, Inc. is a nonprofit health clinic that provides quality patient-centered health care to more than half of Mendocino coast residents since 1994. For 21 years Paula helped the clinic grow from providing care to 2,564 patients every year with seven staff members to 11,300 patients every year with over 53,225 visits and 130 staff members.

Although retired, Paula continues to advocate for healthcare through her role as Executive Director of the Alliance for Rural Community Health. This organization focuses on Mendocino County health care centers that collaborate to improve the health of communities by strengthening and supporting the efforts of their members to provide access to quality health care. Their current focus is to work with other rural counties to assure that people in those areas have access to the same services urban residents receive. She also serves on the board of the California Primary Care Association Board and Partnership Health Plan of California.

Thank you Paula Cohen for everything you do for our community – I am so proud to represent such a dedicated and compassionate individual.

If you have a recommendation for a “Community Champion,” please send their name, along with information about their good work, to ruth.valenzuela@asm.ca.gov or call (707) 463-5770.
 

 

 


October 2016 Community Champion

Matt MartinAs one way to highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my office features a “Community Champion” every month. The champion can be an individual, a group, an organization or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.

This month’s Community Champion is Matt Martin.

Mr. Martin is a former school teacher who taught in the Oakland Unified School District and ran Bay Area youth programs, including the Boys and Girls Club of Petaluma. He previously served in AmeriCorps in Rhode Island.

Currently Mr. Martin is the Executive Director at Social Advocates for Youth. This organization is a Santa Rosa-based nonprofit that provides support and life readiness services to at-risk youth, ages 14-24, in Sonoma County. As executive director, he incorporates his personal ideals of helping kids break through the cycles of violence, poverty and abuse that unfortunately are often passed down from generation to generation.

Mr. Martin has also helped bring the issue of our homeless youth to the forefront of Sonoma County. He serves on the Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board Youth Council, the City of Santa Rosa Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force Policy Team and the Sonoma County Homeless Youth Task Force.

His dedication to our vulnerable youth community is inspiring. Thank you Matt Martin for everything you do for our community – I am so proud to represent such a fine and distinguished individual.

If you have a recommendation for “Community Champions,” please send their name, along with information about their good work, to ruth.valenzuela@asm.ca.gov or call (707) 463-5770. 

 

 


Community Champions

Our region possesses a unique sense of community, volunteerism and compassion that often goes unrecognized. I am incredibly honored and proud to represent such a remarkable district.

To highlight the good deeds and hard work of our neighbors, my Assembly website will feature a different Community Champion every month. This champion can be an individual, a group or a business that makes us proud to be a part of the community we live in.

If you have a recommendation for a Community Champion, please send their name and background information to Ruth Valenzuela at Ruth.Valenzuela@asm.ca.gov or call (916) 319-2290.