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5th Annual Hearts Award Luncheon Spreads the Love

By Kayla Sheldon
Staff Writer
2016-02-23 at 11:28:34
The Unforgettables Foundation (TUF) kicked off Valentine’s Day weekend by recognizing and awarding those community members, leaders, and organizations that exude selflessness and possess the “biggest hearts” of all throughout the Inland Empire at their 5th Annual Unforgettable Hearts Awards luncheon on Friday, Feb. 12. A myriad of community members filled the Fox Event Center in Redlands to enjoy a three-course meal, courtesy of the founder of the Fontana Foundation of Hope and event honoree Jack Long. All event attendees received a large welcome from TUF co-founder, Tim Evans. "The purpose from the beginning, when Senator Mike Morrell and I conceived of the idea, was to celebrate big-hearted individuals and the good work people do. It was also to show that charities can share and work together, collaborate and cross promote, and as a little charity, we decided to prove and highlight that point. We've been able to bring attention to over 100 sister charities in the five years of this event," said Evans. Host of the heart-warming event, TUF is a non-profit organization that provides care and support, financially and emotionally, for those families that have unfortunately lost a child. Over the course of 16 years, TUF has helped over 5,000 Southern California families with essential burial and funeral funds for children — 18 years to 32 weeks gestation. Event keynote speaker Senator Mike Morrell reminded everyone the good that TUF does by offering life-changing support for families of children whose lives were tragically cut short. As he thanked all of the hard working non-profit organizations and charities, he shared: “So many organizations, there are so many needs.. and you have these people, and a lot of these business owners, taking their own money and helping people within our community.. and that’s the way it’s always been meant to be,” he said. “This San Bernardino massacre.. it was bitter sweet, the bitterness of course of all those people that lost their lives but our community really came together in those weeks afterward and I was proud to represent the 23rd Senate District.” TUF Board Member, Stan Morrison, who served as the event's emcee, shared his thoughts on the organization and explained why he choose to get involved: "As the father of two and the grandfather of four, I pray that I will never be confronted with the agony of having to bury a child or a grandchild. The Unforgettables Foundation, where I have the honor of serving as a Board member, fully grasps my initial thought here. Going one step further, The Unforgettables Foundation aids families that do not have the finances to provide a dignified burial for their lost child. Imagine, amidst the incredibly heart wrenching pain of losing a child, coming to the realization that you cannot afford to bury that same child with dignity. If our culture is built, in large part, on teaching others to “give back”, this organization is the most obvious and compelling example of doing just that. Helping people whom you may never meet or see and who can do nothing for you may be the ultimate gift. The Unforgettables Foundation, under the leadership of Founder and Pastor Tim Evans, and a magnificent volunteer Board, does exactly that." Morrison began by presenting one of the highest awards, the Unforgettable Summer Austin Award. The honorable accolade was named after the daughter of John and Judy Austin who, 19 years ago this winter, was killed at the young age of 20. After learning of TUF from The Bobbitt funeral home, John and Judy called Tim Evans and they have served an instrumental role in TUF ever since. Their decade of giving financially, and of time, has helped pave the way for more and more lives to be touched. The award was given to two very rewarding parties: Paul and Nina Adkins, and Dr. Tomas D. Morales. Paul and Nina Adkins are very committed to the child and veteran support efforts in the Inland Empire. Not only are they well-known advocates for military families and causes like the Medal of Honor, P.O.W.s, Riverside National Cemetery Support Committees, and West Coast Thunder; beyond that they have been annual donors to TUF for over a decade — both personally and through their Compressor Component Part Company — for total contributions of over $20,000. Dr. Thomas D. Morales, the President of Cal State San Bernardino (CSUSB), was elected as such in May 2012. In addition to his role at CSUSB, Morales is a board member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, became the organization's chair in 2014, and serves as vice chair of the governing board of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. He has received the Latino Trendsetter Award at the United Nations, was named number one of the 100 Most Influential Latino Leaders in America; and has worked with TUF for the past three years, facilitating the annual Children & Families in Crisis Conference at the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus. The WeCARE Award is honored to a business or entity that has helped the organization immensely. Evans presented this award to Dave Davisson, a manager with DaVita Dialysis Clinics of the Inland Empire. Hearing about TUF five years ago, Davisson and the DaVita team have wasted no time serving as cheerleaders for the organization, encouraging community members to donate and get involved. The global dialysis organization of nearly 50,000 employees at over 2,000 international sites has over 30 clinics in the Inland Empire. To date, the DaVita team has donated almost $20,000 to the Unforgettables. “The best way I can describe the Unforgettables if someone asked what it’s all about…it’s a loving financial shoulder for people to lean on during their time in need,” Davisson added. Many local leaders also participated in the event. Congressman Pete Aguilar, who served as one of the event hosts, said, “The Unforgettables Foundation provides an incredible service to Inland Empire families who experience unspeakable loss. Their compassion and work on behalf of those in need is a reminder of the devotion and care that our community has for one another.” “I am proud to recognize those who have supported the Unforgettables Foundation and their mission to ensure that families have a decent burial for their children who have passed away prematurely,” stated Assemblymember Cheryl Brown. “This act of kindness and compassion provides much needed comfort to families during a very difficult time.” "Many families in the Inland Empire are still in economic stress. When a child is tragically lost many of these families are unable to cope and need a helping hand. The Unforgettables Foundation provides that helping hand in a loving, dignified way. This is why we offer support on behalf of Riverside County's taxpayers to this superb non-profit organization," said County of Riverside Supervisor Marion Ashley, who also served as an event host. "I am proud to support the Unforgettables Foundation in their 5th Annual Unforgettable Heart Awards. The services they provide to families in our region is truly remarkable and an effort I am honored to be part of," said Assemblyman Marc Steinorth. Morrison, made the luncheon memorable as he presented a detailed yet brief description of a few of the wonderfully selfless acts made by each honoree as he called them up to the stage. Colton Honorees Included:Ashley Furniture — Ashley Furniture, located in Colton, strives to be the best furniture store around; in fact, it's this goal that drives them in everything they do. From design through fulfilment, they continuously strive to provide the best product at the best prices accompanied by the best service in the industry. • Fire & Burn Foundation — Working locally out of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, The Fire & Burn Foundation is the only local full-service agency providing burn survivor support and burn prevention education to our communities. They are a non-profit health agency dedicated to reducing burn injuries and deaths through fire and burn prevention education, burn survivor support programs and the funding of burn care research and treatment. • Montecito Mortuary/Dignity Memorial — Kelley Bowden is the General Manager of Montecito Memorial Park and Mortuary, President of the Redlands Sunrise Rotary Club, and Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Inland Empire. Dignity Memorial has multiple locations in the Inland Empire, including Montecito and have been huge supporters of the Unforgettables. Kelley encourages her caring staff to become involved in children- and family-oriented charities. • Molina Healthcare — Molina Healthcare of California is a managed care organization that has been providing government-funded health programs for low-income families and individuals since 1985. Today, Molina serves approximately 611,000 members in six counties with Medi-Cal, Medicare and Covered California. Molina’s mission of improving access to health and wellness is demonstrated everyday through their community engagement and grassroots efforts. Grand Terrace Honorees included: • Dr. Len Sigastad — Dr. Sigastad continually demonstrates a community-focused heart through his support of the community through his involvement in the Kiwanis and Lions Clubs. • Walt Stanckiewitz — Walt and his wife, Monique has been very involved in their local community of Grand Terrace for a number of years. They were instrumental in organizing the efforts that ensured the new high school (Grand Terrace High School) was named after the city, they have supported numerous academic and athletic groups at the high school, and they provide the football team with a hot meal before their first and last home games of each season. The Stanckiewitz’s also participate in Read Across America in the Colton Joint Unified School District by reading to students in kindergarten through third grades. Loma Linda Honorees Included: • Mike Kovack — As the executive director of the Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House, Kovack has been serving for a total of seven years, over two terms, as the program's leader. He is currently heading up the $12 million expansion campaign to take the House from 21 rooms to 54, and has lead a staff of seven and hundreds of volunteers who have raised over $2 million raised in under two years. The House serves as a home away from home for thousands of families with a child in hospitals across the Inland Empire each year and works closely with TUF to support families in crisis. • Loma Linda Lopers — Jim Walling is the president of the Board of the Loma Linda Lopers, the largest running club in the Inland Empire. A major part of the outreach of the group is to promote health, wellness, and activity for young children and families through trainings for all distances of races, up to marathons. The annual Holiday Classic Run targets races for children as well as the most seasoned runners. • Marvin & Shirley Ponder — Marvin and Shirley Ponder have been Associate Pastors on the Pastoral Staff of the Loma Linda University Church for the past 39 years. Marvin has worked primarily in Pastoral Care and Shirley has worked in Children’s Ministries, Women’s Ministries, and Pastoral Care. They both retired in December from full-time ministry, but they plan to continue to live and serve in the local community. Moreno Valley Honorees Included: • Knea Hawley of the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council — Knea has devoted more than a decade to helping address critical, life-impacting issues pertaining to children throughout the Inland Empire and Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Through her role as Vice President of Resource Development at Arrowhead United Way, she was able to raise funds to help the community’s socioeconomically-challenged families obtain assistance. Knea joined Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council as their Director of Fund Development and Alumnae Engagement in 2012. She is dedicated to supporting their mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. • Debbie Chisholm Memorial Foundation — This organization is a law enforcement-based wish-granting charity for catastrophically ill children throughout the Inland Empire. The charity has been actively granting wishes for 21 years. The organization was started after a Riverside County Sheriffs Deputy's daughter, Debbie, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and her last wish was to see a movie that had not yet been released in the theaters. After Debbie passed away, Corky Bell, Debby's father, made it his mission to bring joy to the sick children of the Inland Empire. Kylleen Coogan joined Corky in his mission 4 years ago and visits local area children's hospitals on a regular basis, working tirelessly to bring smiles and encouragement to children as they battle for their lives. Redlands Honorees Included:The Tire Guys — Jim & Ed Ferguson, owners Tire Guys Goodyear-Total Car Care have been serving Redlands and surrounding communities since 1984 through four locations. • Dave Maupin — The Bible verse Romans 12:13 was painted on a single engine airplane called the Spirit of Charles Kean as it flew around the world in 2005 with Dave Maupin as its navigator. The mission's goal: raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic. "If a child is in trouble, YOU be the ONE to help them out." This one verse has been Dave Maupin's personal mission statement in his last 41 years in Redlands as he has engaged children of all ages in the Inland Empire, from pre-schoolers as The Wizard of the Stars to inspiring high school and college students to fundraise for orphans in Africa. • Mario & Maria Saucedo — Mario Saucedo and Maria Whitaker-Saucedo have a passion for helping others and working for the benefit of the community. They are committed to changing lives through public and private collaboration to create healthy neighborhoods and proactively engage youth, families, and community leaders. • Sara Hector of the Businesswoman’s Association of SBC — Sara is the owner and director of Visiting Angels Non-Medical Homecare in Redlands. Visiting Angels assists seniors and disabled adults in the Inland Empire, with a focus on hospice support. In 2013, Sara put forth her efforts into developing a women's networking group that would focus on supporting entrepreneurs within the Inland Empire and use those connections to mentor high school aged girls — Businesswomen's Association of San Bernardino County was formed, and incorporated into a non-profit. BASBC proudly offers scholarships to aspiring female entrepreneurs in the local community. • Redlands Optimist Club — The Optimist club of Redlands is a very active service club famous for its yearly car show, Octoberfest, where scholarships are given out and the Optimist Games take place for over 250 special needs children K-12 in the Redlands area. With a weekly attendance of 60 committed men they also help numerous causes including the Boys and Girls Club, Youth Hope, and the Unforgettables. • J. Jordan Center for Active Learning — The J. Jordan Center for Active Learning gives students the chance to go to leadership camps and achieve more academically. Their goal is to make learning and higher education for students possible and not just a dream. San Bernardino Honorees Included: • The Fellas — This dedicated group of young professional men from the African American community is dedicated to inspiring youth and instilling strong educational values. Founders Johnathan Buffong, Terrance Stone, Joseph Williams, and Hardy Brown Jr., meet regularly with community leaders to discuss pertinent topics and trends which are affecting children and families in their community. They have recently also organized the “Man Mob” which goes to local schools to welcome children and encourage them at the beginning of their school day. • Carl Dameron, Dameron Strategies — Carl Dameron is the founder and creative director of Dameron Communications, the Inland Empire's senior public relations firm. Through Dameron Strategies, Dameron contributes time to help non-profits inform the public about their mission, story, and happenings. • Mike Gallo, President & CEO of Kelly Space & Technology, Inc. — Mike Gallo began his professional career in 1980 as a United States Air Force Officer stationed at the former Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino. Following his military service, Mike joined TRW Ballistic Missiles Division to support the USAF in the development and deployment of the Peacekeeper and Small ICBM Weapon Systems. In 1993, Gallo co-founded Kelly Space & Technology, Inc., conducting aerospace research, development, and testing at the former Norton Air Force Base. In 2010, he founded Technical Employment Training, Inc., a non-profit business and education partnership, providing intensive skills training where students earn national industry certifications and are placed into high-demand careers with local employers. In November 2015, Gallo was re-elected to the San Bernardino City Unified School District's Board of Education for a second term, serving as Vice President then President for the past four years where he focuses on strengthening our schools to inspire, engage, and prepare students for success in college and careers. • Catholic Charities San Bernardino and Riverside Counties — As a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, which assists families in need regardless of religious affiliation. Catholic Charities provides compassionate social services that respond to the suffering of the vulnerable and those in crisis throughout the local communities. Services are provided in a culturally relevant manner and are based on individual and family needs and vary from prevention-based to crisis-based. It is Catholic Charities’ experience that by alleviating the immediate suffering of others, families are then empowered to move toward a more hopeful future for themselves and their children. Additional Inland Empire Honoree’s Included: Banning: Dorothy Cole, the Russo family, and Habitat for Humanity Beaumont: Class Acts Auto Body, Pamela Tyler, and Building Resilient Communities Calimesa: Kafe Royale and Garden of Angels Crestline: Donna Golder Corona: Cradle of Love, Karen Spiegel, and Gallant Risk & Insurance Devore: Little League West Region. Fontana: Fontana Foundation of Hope and Patricia Nickols-Butler Hemet: the Gosch Family, the Kiwanis Evening Club, and the Community Pantry Highland: Faith Powell, Gina Walden, Michael Bentley – Scout Leader, and posthumously Penny Lilburn Menifee: Menifee Valley Community Cupboard, Patricia Billins, and Menifee Boys & Girls Club Rancho Cucamonga: Professional Electrical Construction Services, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, and Operation Community Cares Rialto: Joe Baca Foundation, Diane DeBourguignon – Kiwanis, and Tyler Nguyen Riverside: Julio Figueroa/ATT, McSpi Industries/Spiels, Anne Rogan, and Shirley Coats San Jacinto: Star Milling – Cramer Family Sun City: Sun City Granite Ontario: Ontario Reign, Mark Christopher Chevrolet, and Bob Spence Yucaipa: Stephen & Paulette Matich – Matich Corp., Debbie Jenkins, and Margaret Muller – Knots of Love The Hosts of the 5th Annual Unforgettable Hearts Awards included:State Senator Mike Morrell Senator Richard Roth Senator Jeff Stone • Former Senator Bill Emmerson •Congressman Pete Aguilar Congressman Paul Cooke, Assemblyman Marc Steinorth Assemblyman Jose Medina Assemblywomen Cheryl Brown Assemblyman Chad Mayes Assemblyman Jay Obernolte County of Riverside Supervisor John Tavaglione County of Riverside Supervisor Marion Ashley County of San Bernardino Supervisor Josie Gonzales County of San Bernardino Supervisor James Ramos County of San Bernardino Supervisor Janice Rutherford –Lim County of San Bernardino Supervisor Curt Hagman County of San Bernardino Supervisor Robert Lovingood • Mike Morell’s Staff, Nick Calero •The Unforgettables Board of Directors Volunteers and Committee members included: Co-Chairs: Kathie Chism & Kathy Marcelletta Volunteers: Kim Kojan; Linda Stratton; Gilbert & Suzie Aceves; Devonne Rowlen; Debbie Jenkins; James Persinger; Chris Mardis; Clarisa Kitk; Kay Toliver; Kelly Preuss; Cherie Russell; Janet McCombs; Stephanie Ornelas; Kim Walden; Lisa Curl; Rose Narcisse; Lisa Magliozzi; Shelley Burnach; Mandy Venturina; Melissa Robinson; Christine Beamer; Lori O’Connor; Michele Epps; Eileen Hards; Ben Hartnell Event Sponsors included: • Alaina Mathews • Paul & Nina Adkins • John & Judy Austin • All State Insurance- Office of Todd Underwood AMR Bank of America Dignity Memorial Draper Mortuary • James Ramos Jr. • Hunter Media •Inland Empire MagazineFontana Foundation of HopeDaVitaPremier Medical TransportationSafety Employees Benefit AssociationWescom Credit Union • James Ramos Sr. & Rowena Ramos •Apple One EmploymentChase Bank Chuckwalla Valley Raceway Golden Crown Productions • Nathan Miller •Sun City Granite Teserra • Tim Evans •Wilson Associates • Van Lant & Fankhanel LLP •Minuteman Press In-Kind Sponsors Included:City News Group CV Weekly Highland Community News Inland Empire Community Newspapers LA News Group/Redlands Daily Facts The Voice/Black Voice Newspaper Press Enterprise

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