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Sixth Annual Community of Character Luncheon Will Honor Those Who Give Back

Winners of the Juanita Haugen Award are: Janet Liang (Team Janet), Debra Mitchell, Dave Melander and Pleasanton Military Families.

The following is a press statement from the Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative:

The Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative invites the public to attend this year’s Community of Character Luncheon Celebration on May 9 at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall 301 Main Street in Pleasanton.

The event will honor the 2012 winners of the Juanita Haugen Community of Character Awards: Janet Liang, Debra Mitchell, Dave Melander and our volunteer organization of the year, Pleasanton Military Families.

Janet Liang is Founder of Team Janet and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia while attending college at UCLA. During her treatment at the UCLA Medical Center, she started Team Janet to help register bone marrow donors in hopes of finding a match and in helping others to find their bone marrow match as well.

In 2010, following several rounds of chemotherapy Janet’s cancer went into
remission, however, it returned again this past December. She has been given a life extension by her doctors through June. In January, Janet posted a video blog on Youtube sharing her story and Team Janet soared from a group of 2,000 to over 10,000 people. Team Janet has been able to encourage people to register and has helped to increase the bone marrow data bank of donors through greater awareness. This community has given Janet much support and she, in turn, has helped to generate much more knowledge and data bank contributors for bone marrow banks around the United States and the World. More information may be found at helpingjanet.com.

Debra Mitchell is an inspiring example within the Pleasanton community. She gives her service whenever and wherever it is needed and often does so with very little recognition. Each year she solicits lists from local community service organizations and finds volunteers to fulfill the needs of our local non-profits.

Debra founded a program for teen girls called Defining Girl and encourages them to be true to who they are, commit to their personal interest and talents while developing goals and strong character. Whenever blankets or any other supplies are needed, Debra provides and finds the resources to fill the need. She is a coordinator for the East Bay Stand Down, for the Tri Valley Youth Food Drive and for the Coastal Cleanup Project. Debra exemplifies the spirit of community and giving by devoting her time and resources to the betterment of those who may not be able to provide for their own welfare. She has brought joy into the lives of the needy. Military families, single mothers and worked to
improve our environment.

Dave Melander is a man who exemplifies compassion and believes in building the character of our community by encouraging individuals to serve where they live. Dave has helped to build youth, senior and faith community programs in Pleasanton for over forty years. For several years Dave served on local school boards and joined the Dublin-Pleasanton Joint High School District at the time of unification for a total of school board service of thirteen years.

Dave served on the board of directors for the YMCA and his spirit and enthusiasm has been a major factor in the current revival of the YMCA programs in the Tri-Valley. He was appointed by the Board of Supervisors of Alameda County Commission on Aging and served for over nine years representing Alameda County as a member of the Aging Council of California.

In addition he also served on the Human Rights Commission for Alameda County. This commission works on problems such as bullying in schools, the safety of the internet and much more. Dave was also a founding board member of PPIE () as well as creating the original Community of Character Collaborative and served on its board up to 2010.

Dave also served on the Pleasanton Gardens Board of Directors for six years. Pleasanton Gardens provides housing for the elderly and is specifically designed to meet physical, psychological and social needs.

Dave is very active in the Catholic Community of Pleasanton and has served in The Knights of Columbus. Last year its members contributed over 10,000 hours to their community. Dave Melander who led his council as Grand Knight during its Columbian year of 1990-1991 has been a council leader for the last 25 years. He is a 4th degree member (the highest of the order) and a member of its initiation team. Dave has the reputation of being the "heart" of his council due to his creativity in writing songs and playing his ukulele when honoring the leaders of his council.

Dave spearheaded the Knights involvement in Red Ribbon Week when it was an active program in its early years withing the Pleasanton community. His love for all youth activities is a result of his father's leadership in the YMCA and as a youth councilor for Alameda County. In recent years, Dave has guided the council with wisdom and passion for the care of the elderly and is quick to praise the efforts and accomplishments of others.

The Pleasanton Military Families is a support group for families, loved ones and friends of military men and women. Founded in 2003 at the beginning of the Global War on Terror, there was a need for an outlet to talk about and honor the children, loved ones, husbands, wives and friends fighting in a foreign land.

Families and members participating in the Pleasanton Military Families, who often have someone currently fighting in a foreign land, define the term “Ethic of Service” for our community and nation. They have periodic “Pack-Outs” where they box donated comfort items, clothing, toiletries, food and more items to ship tour deployed troops. The group gathers donations to help pay for the shipment of these packages.

These special boxes are sent directly to all Pleasanton troops deployed to foreign stations. Many of our local military personnel have been deployed 3 or 4 times since 2003, which causes a great deal of stress on their families and loved ones.

Pleasanton Military Families offers wonderful support for our local families serving in the current war and as a result, the Pleasanton group has grown to over 150 families becoming the most active Military Family group in our Bay Area. They coordinate the flag and streamer program with the names of each member of the military handing from the lamp posts up and down Main Street Pleasanton. When men and women come home this group throws “Welcome Home Celebrations” expressing how appreciative and thankful local residents are for their service. The Welcome Home Celebrations include a motorcycle escort to their home where a ceremony takes place right in front of their house.
Celebrations are attended by elected officials, friends,family, veteran groups, Blue Star Moms, Lafayette Flag brigade and many other organizations.

A flag line welcome is provided and this very special support group makes sure there will never be another Pleasanton military person scorned or ignored when returning home. In conjunction with our local veterans groups, Pleasanton
Military Families helps organize ceremonies for the fallen and the wounded. They provide comfort and support for the families of all military personnel whenever needed.

The Juanita Haugen Community of Character Award is named in honor of long-time Pleasanton Unified School District Board Member Juanita Haugen, co-founder of the Community of Character program. It recognizes a citizen (or a non-profit organization) exhibiting outstanding volunteer service within our community while displaying the community-accepted traits the Collaborative advocates: Responsibility, Compassion, Self Discipline, Honesty, Respect and Integrity.

Cost per person for this annual luncheon is $35. Table sponsorships for 8 are available for $350. Register by filling out a luncheon registration form found at Pleasanton’s Chamber of Commerce, Pleasanton City Hall, Pleasanton Library, Pleasanton Senior Center or the Pleasanton School District Offices or at http://communityofcharacter.org.

Forms and payment information may be sent to Community of Character P.O. Box 21 Pleasanton, CA 94566 or dropped off by Friday, May 4 at any of the above locations. For more information contact Kelly O’Lague Dulka at (925) 263-4444.

Past award recipients are Lori Rice (2008), Diana and Howard Mendenhall (2008), Jerri Pantages Long (2009), Sue Evans (2009), Ken Mano (2009), Chris Miller (2010), Bob Athenour (2010), Dr. Pushpa Dalal (2010), G.A.S.I.T. (the George A. Spiliotopoulos Invitational Golf Tournament) (2010), Chuck Deckert, W. Ron Sutton, Bob and Joyce Shapiro, and the Assistance League of Amador Valley.

Donations are being accepted for the Juanita Haugen High School Civic Engagement awards through the Community of Character Collaborative or through PPIE (Pleasanton Partnerships In Education Foundation) with a notation indicating the Juanita Haugen Civic Engagement Scholarship Fund. Scholarships benefit students exhibiting excellent character traits and outstanding community involvement from Village, Foothill and Amador Valley High Schools each year. The scholarship winners are chosen by officials at the local high schools each year. Students are recognized and honored for their civic involvement by our local school board in a meeting at the end of every school year.


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