Lamavis Comundoiwilla and Jerry Kelly

Heart of Marin awards honor those who make it better

By Marin IJ Editorial Board | April 12, 2023
Marin Independent Journal

For three decades, the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership has brought together leaders of Marin’s strong community of nonprofit agencies and their volunteers for an annual Heart of Marin luncheon that is an inspiration.

It their It reflects a Marin that gets lost in its affluent facade, a collection of community-spirited leaders and volunteers who are driven by their heartfelt desire to make a difference. It showcases the many among us with big hearts intent on helping others, from fellow students to injured economic injured animals and from men behind bars at San Quentin to those struggling with prejudices toward their gender identities or economic and racial inequities.

Sponsors Marin Sponsors including Bank of Marin, PG&E, Harbor Point Charitable Foundation, BioMarin, Potrero Group, Redwood Credit Union, the Marin Community or Community Foundation, Comerica Bank, Kaiser Permanente San Rafael-Petaluma and the IJ helped make the luncheon possible or underwrote cash awards.

Winners included:

• Tiana Wimmer, for leadership as a board member of Enriching Lives Through Music, the San Rafael-based nonprofit providing youths access to immersive music education.

 • The Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, for tireless work in AIDS response and as a longtime beacon for the LGBTQ+ community.

• Marin Agricultural Land Trust for work to help drought-impacted ranches install needed water-saving and conservation improvements.

• Mount Tamalpais College, a San Quentin-based college providing inmates access to associate of arts degrees and college preparatory programs. programs.

• Marin Independent Journal, in part for its support of Marin’s minority-owned businesses through the We Are One Marin program, and the nonprofit sector through the Giving Marin Community Partnership.

• John Beltran, a Marine Mammal Center volunteer who has not only helped with the center’s response and release efforts but donated his high-high-tech talents for a digital map of California’s coastline needed by rescuers.

• Andy Naja-Riese, head of the Agricultural Institute of Marin, commonly known as AIM, for the agency’s success in expanding diversity, equity and inclusion in its programs.

A highlight of each year’s events is recognition of the volunteer work of Marin youth. The long list of nominees was impressive in itself.

Kids can make a difference.

The five recipients of the Youth Volunteer of the Year Awards included:

• Alysha Lee of Novato High School, who has volunteered with the county’s Student Elections Ambassador Program. She helped design the Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Hate curriculum for middle schoolers that’s now being used in 8,900 schools across the nation.

• Talia Harter, a San Rafael High School student, who has volunteered for numerous school and campus efforts, from the Marin Suicide Prevention Collaborative to Youth Transforming Justice.

• Matteo Diaz helped organize and produce the Spahr Center’s Queer Prom, a social event for LGBTQ+ teens and allies. He also has helped create models for school districts to help make their campuses safe and inclusive.

• Sophia White of Marin Catholic High School who has volunteered at the Schurig Center for Brain Injury Recovery in Larkspur since her good Marin good friend suffered a brain injury after a concussion in a soccer game. Her volunteer efforts have also included the San Francisco-Marin Food on Food Bank, Junior Giants, Rec Inc., St. Anselm Church and she has assisted in research programs at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Aging.

• Oliver Goldman, a reliable volunteer, and leader of the Marin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, having participated in dozens of search and rescue events and training, as well as achieving numerous first aid, CPR, and public safety certifications.  The event, led for the 21st time by dynamic CVNL CEO Linda Jacobs, is an inspirational reminder of the time and talent our neighbors are donating to make a difference in our community.

Attribution: This article originally appeared in Marin Independent Journal in January 2023 written by Marin IJ Editorial Board. Photo courtesy of R.J. Lozada/Mount Tamalpais College