Thank you for joining us at our Annual Founders Day Dinner on February 28, 2014!
Each year we get to recognize amazing members of our community. This year was no different!
Marian Wright Edelman, the great child advocate, said “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” Many, many parents, teachers, students, administrators, and community members give countless hours behind the scenes to make our schools and communities what they are.
Honorary service awards are designed as a unique way for PTA units, councils and districts to publicly acknowledge both individuals and organizations for outstanding community service to children and youth in a community.
PTAs make a contribution for each award they give out and all monies collected with this program and used exclusively to fund the California State PTA Scholarship and Grant Program. You can find lots of details on our new website, along with applications and forms to guide you through the process.
We asked all of you to nominate people you thought should be recognized for their outstanding service. The suggestions were wonderful; there are so many doing things on the ground that we don’t always know about. We wish we could recognize them all tonight. The following people are the ones that stood out, and we hope that all of you will take this award program back to your own schools and take the opportunity to recognize those who serve before the end of this school year.
We are very excited this year to recognize a student for her contributions to her PTSA and school. Doreen Pacini is a student at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and has been a member of their PTA for five years, most recently serving in the role of Student Representative. She is an excellent example of what it means to be involved and to give back to your community. Doreen has been a frequent volunteer for PTA events at the school, gives regular, thoughtful reports to the PTA as the student representative, and is an active participant in student life and leadership. Her service to the school even includes a donation of all her profits to the school farm from the sale of her notecards which include stunning photos of vegetable and fruit growing there. In the words of her nominator, “for her loyalty and dedication to the PTA, her service to the school and community, and her positive attitude on life,” we are thrilled to recognize you.
Nina Manzo is a parent at one of our newer PTAs, San Francisco Public Montessori. These are the words her PTA President shared about her when asking if we would recognize Nina tonight. “Nina works tirelessly at and for our school. She has two boys at our school, one of whom has been enrolled at our school for six of our school’s seven-year history. Nina, an architect by trade, took full responsibility for putting together the amazing school library that we now have. She applies for multiple grants each year and plans a book fair and a community fundraiser each year to pay for the ever-growing library. In addition, Nina is the Operations Chair of our PTA this year. As such, she oversees many of our volunteer positions: including our rolling drop-off (curbside drop-off for students in the morning), our lunch and recess volunteers, and our room parents. She checks in with all of the teachers regularly to make sure their needs are met, and she helps facilitate the ordering of classroom materials and items needed for our on-site VAPA instructors. On top of all this, Nina led the charge to apply for a Prop A Greening Grant, which will allow our campus to receive some much-needed money for establishing a small garden. Everything Nina does is thorough and thoughtful and seen through to completion. She is amazing! There is almost nothing that goes on at SF Public Montessori that Nina hasn’t helped facilitate. As PTA President, I am so, so grateful to have a volunteer like Nina Manzo at our school.”
For several years Sherry Heldens has worked tirelessly on the membership efforts for the A. P. Giannini Middle School PTSA. She worked with different Treasurers using different systems (Quick books, then PTA EZ, then back to Quick books) without a complaint. This year the PTA had a VERY hard time keeping a Treasurer. They went through not one, not two, but three treasurers. This is when Sherry stepped up to take on the role on behalf of APG. This was not a role she wanted, nor sought out, but she realized that the health of the organization depended on it and took it on for that reason. There was a lot of back work to catch up before they could focus on this year, but Sherry took all of this on with a good attitude and has made leaps and bounds to get the PTA back-on-track. In the words of her nominator, “She is very good at what she does and we are so extremely grateful for her willingness to take on a very messy job and do it in such a steady, pragmatic way refraining from placing blame on anyone else. She seriously deserves a medal!” We all know that a good PTA Treasurer is worth his or her weight in gold, so all thank you for your service tenfold.
When we receive nominations for Honorary Service Awards I am continually impressed and inspired by the work parents, teachers, administrators, and students do because they care and want to make a difference. And, of course, because I get to meet new people. When this next parent was nominated I can’t say I was surprised because I have known her for many years and have been witness to her dedication and many, many hours of service behind the scenes at both elementary and middle school to make things happen. I know her as Camilla, though she is nominated as Millie. Millie DiGennaro is a parent at Lowell High School who began volunteering for the Lowell PTSA upon her daughter’s admission. She ran the Hospitality Committeeundefinedwhich has never been so well appointed and offered so much food and snacks to so many and then became the Membership chair. Millie finished her quota by January, and also ran one of the school’s largest fundraising events – the dance and auction. As the auction chair, she gathered more luxury and tourist-in-town items than ever, allowing the PTA to do an online portion of their auction for the first time. When her daughter was in elementary school she got great programs off the ground such as, “One School, One Book,” manned book fair tables for an entire week, and created amazing Haunted Houses for the fall carnival. As her nominator so well stated, “But despite all of her activity, it is her quality of character that comes to mind when I think about this award for herundefinedshe never says no, she follows through, and she commits and believes in our school.” MILLIE DIGENNARO
Administration in a school environment is an interesting job. One of the many challenges one faces is being pulled in many directions often by competing agendas. Navigating these many issues and maintaining strong and supportive relationships is indeed an art. It takes thorough knowledge of how a school functions, incredible people skills, dedication, superior organizational skills, and vision. Through all this one must keep kids constantly at the center of every decision. Nobody is better at this then Gary Pacini. Gary is the Assistant Principal at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts and attends virtually every school function, constantly showing his support for kids. As a result, kids love him. He listens patiently to all staff all the time and carefully and compassionately solves all school issues; and therefore, staff have nothing but kind words to say about him. He is steadfast in his support for PTA and all that parents do for the school. Gary was nominated by the principal of the school, Brian Kohn, who said, “Personally, I feel tremendously grateful to be able work with him because he has been a colleague, advisor, confidant, and friend. I can't possibly capture in words how lucky Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is to have Gary Pacini as an administrator, but I can recommend him to you as being incredibly deserving of the Honorary Service Award.” Now, Gary’s last name might sound familiar to you. Unknowing that he was to be nominated for an award tonight, Gary and his wife nominated their daughter Doreen for an award. How special it is that father and daughter will both be recognized here for their ongoing commitment and service to their community. GARY PACINI
Author Elizabeth Gilbert said, “In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”
To all you, THANK YOU. We appreciate you every day. We couldn’t do this great work without you.