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Annual award winners announced in Woodlake

Annual award winners announced in Woodlake

Woodlake Award recipients will be honored on Friday, March 9 at Woodlake Memorial Building

@TheSunGazette

WOODLAKE – It’s award season in the South Valley and Woodlake is no different holding its annual Youth, Man, Woman, and Business of the Year Awards Dinner on Friday, March 9 with a plethora of awards to go around. The winners been announced in advance offering a chance for friends and family of the honorees to take advantage of the event.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Al & Humphrey Valero
Anyone who has ever stopped to fill up their tank, or needed a tow in the Woodlake area is familiar with Valero Bros. The family business has been a mainstay in Woodlake for decades and it is known for its great customer service, and friendly environment. Having moved there with their family as young boys from Mexico, the brothers each graduated from Woodlake High School while working at their dad’s Mohawk Gasoline station. When the Standard Oil station became available on the corner of Valencia and Antelope, the business moved and has remained there ever since.

Today the brothers remain in the towing business. Their location is frequented by the community as a place to talk about the day, watch a game, or play cards. Al’s fondest memories are from working on cars alongside his father and brother. Humphrey says his are of family gatherings and spending time with his grandchildren. Nominated jointly, as Men of the Year, the committee has chosen to honor them with a Lifetime Achievement Award for their contributions to the Woodlake community.

The husband and wife duo Chuck and Jenny House are this year’s Man and Woman of the Year for Woodlake for their dedication to community service and education. Submitted photo.

The husband and wife duo Chuck and Jenny House are this year’s Man and Woman of the Year for Woodlake for their dedication to community service and education. Submitted photo.

Man & Woman of the Year: Chuck & Jenny House
This year a husband and wife are receiving the honors of Man and Woman of the Year. Chuck and Jenny House followed her sister’s move to Woodlake. Jenny joined her sister in operating Sequoia Hills Stables in Elderwood. A former teacher, she is president of RedRock Reports, an education-funding services company. She is a member of Woodlake Kiwanis and the Woodlake High School Foundation Board where she enthusiastically participates in events to support Woodlake’s students, schools and community.

Having retired from serving as a college chancellor in the Bay Area, it was in Chuck’s nature to continue teaching. He has taught STEM topics to elementary, middle school and high school students in the local area for the past seven years, inspiring some of them to pursue a science or engineering career. He has always loved science and helping others to understand it. “There is nothing more exciting than seeing a child say ‘ah-hah’ to solving a math problem or a science question,” he has said.

Chuck loves gardening and worked for Monrovia Nursery in his hometown of La Habra some 61 years ago. Today he has taken on management of the Rose Garden organizing 10 volunteer groups to tend to its needs.

Ricky Herrera, 21, was born with spina bifida but shows his Spirit of Woodlake by continuing to coach youth sports. Submitted photo.

Ricky Herrera, 21, was born with spina bifida but shows his Spirit of Woodlake by continuing to coach youth sports. Submitted photo.

Spirit of Woodlake: Ricky Herrera
Twenty-one-year-old Ricky Herrera is a coach for Woodlake Youth soccer, tee-ball, baseball, and basketball. Born with spina bifida, Ricky does not let his condition define him. Having had 20 surgeries through the years, from “my head all the way down to my feet when I was growing up, at times it was hard for me to cope with what was going on with me,” he said. “But I had faith that everything was going to be okay. As long as I kept my faith in God and I never give up, spina bifida wasn’t going to dictate the way I live my life.”

Ricky began coaching soccer at the age of 16. It was rough at first, he said, but he learned a lot as this was something he knew in his heart he wanted to do. Shortly after, his brother started playing tee-ball and he wanted to coach there, too. This past year he added basketball to his schedule. He loves working with kids, he said, and helping them find their God-given talents.

Educator of the Year: Glen Billington
Having served as the assistant superintendent of Woodlake Unified School District for the past six years, Glen Billington was instrumental in supporting and implementing the new common core standards and research-based instructional practices, bringing in onsite assistant and coaching. He integrated district-wide technology such as Chromebooks for each student to take home, interactive display panels for classrooms, and Wi-Fi for all students served by the district providing learning opportunities beyond the regular school day.

Recently, Billington took a position with the Yosemite Unified School District. Woodlake’s loss is their gain.

Organization of the Year – California: Teaching Fellows/Afterschool Program
California Teaching Fellows Foundation was founded in 1999 at the Fresno State, Kremen School of Education and Human Development. The foundation partnered with Woodlake Unified School District in the fall of 2013 and has remained in partnership to serve the students and parents of the Woodlake community offering a high quality afterschool program. 

The building blocks of the foundation are to provide exceptional programs to the Central Valley while preparing future educators. Over a decade later, it prides itself in leading the nation in best practices for Expanded Learning programs and professional development.  During the time it has worked with Woodlake Unified, the foundation has hired passionate college students who serve as the next-generation leaders in their community.

Youth of the Year: Jaime Navarro Rodriguez
Nominated by Woodlake High’s Coordinator of College & Careers Carmita Pena, Jaime Navarro Rodriguez has been named Male Youth of the Year. While active in sports and other extra-curricular activities Jaime has maintained a 3.51 GPA. This senior is described as energetic, responsible and an outstanding student. He has earned more than twice the number of hours required for community service to graduate, is involved in Key Club, and has volunteered with Toys for Joy, Run for Hunger, Miss Woodlake, and the Woodlake Union High School Foundation dinner.

Youth of the Year: Edith Guijon
Also nominated by Pena, Edith Guijon has been named Female Youth of the year. She has maintained a 3.55 GPA while serving as FFA Greenhand vice president, Chapter vice president, Sequoia Section secretary, San Joaquin Regional reporter and vice president. She was chosen as a delegate to attend the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Edith has volunteered in Woodlake Union School District’s afterschool program and plans on becoming a teacher.

Coribelles Boutique is always ready to help Woodlake look its best as the family-run business is this year’s Business of the Year. Submitted photo.

Coribelles Boutique is always ready to help Woodlake look its best as the family-run business is this year’s Business of the Year. Submitted photo.

Business of the Year: Coribelles Boutique
Coribelles Boutique is the recipient of the 2018 Business of the Year, awarded by the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce. The women’s clothing and accessories boutique owned by Anna Guido opened in December 2016. A family-run operation, the store has generously contributed to local organizations and causes within the community.

Recycler of the Year: Woodlake Drive-In
During 2018 Woodlake Drive-In recycled 62,559 pounds of cardboard, mixed paper, bottles, and aluminum cans diverted from heading to the land fill. The Woodlake Drive-In was chosen by MidValley Recycling as Recycler of the Year for its dedication to the advancement of waste reduction, recycling and sustainability to the City of Woodlake.

Most awards are chosen by a committee which includes one member each from the City of Woodlake staff, Woodlake Police Department, Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce, Woodlake Lions/Lady Lions, Woodlake Rotary, Woodlake Kiwanis, Woodlake Ministerial Association, The HomeGrown Project, Woodlake Unified School District, Woodlake High School, and previous award winners in each category. 

Tickets for the dinner are $30; $25 for past award winners, and $40 at the door. Tickets are available at Woodlake City Hall or online at WoodlakeKiwanis.com.

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