SONC Honors the 2021 Volunteers of the Year

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Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) is proud to recognize an outstanding group of individuals and corporations as our 2021 Volunteers of the Year. The Volunteers of the Year were selected after a lengthy nomination process and exemplify the dedication and love of the more than 28,000 volunteers who support SONC annually. Due to the nature of 2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic, our volunteers stepped up both virtually and in-person; and we are thankful for their gifts of passion, time, energy and resources.

Congratulations and thank you to the 2021 Volunteers of the Year! The Volunteers of the Year were honored during the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Summer Games at Santa Clara University. 

 

Suzy Andrade

Coach of the Year

Suzy Andrade

Santa Clara County

From her nomination:

“Suzy is a natural leader and is beloved by athletes, coaches, volunteers, and parents.  She consistently goes above and beyond as a coach and leader, both on and off the field, and pours her heart into supporting athletes all the time.  She inspires athletes and coaches to be the best they can be, consistently providing a supportive, encouraging, and positive environment.  Suzy continued to support and encourage athletes when we couldn't meet in person, whether via mail, e-mail, coach messages, or video conferencing calls.  This connection and support has been invaluable to athletes to help maintain community and well-being, when in-person activities were not an option. 

Suzy is also an avid fundraiser, and spearheads a Polar Plunge team year after year, raising invaluable funds for Special Olympics.  Suzy has been a role model, mentor, and inspiration to so many of us, and deserves to be honored for the amazing coach that she is! “

 

Jen Richmann

Community Group Volunteer of the Year

Jen Richman & Starbucks

From their nomination:

"Jen has been instrumental in getting Starbucks involved with SONC and has recruited numerous volunteers to help out at Torch Runs, Polar Plunges, and Regional Competitions. Jen attends every committee meeting and has a "We will get it done" attitude. She is currently working on a fundraiser within her region to support Special Olympics. Jen has taken it upon herself to recruit staff and even has set up meetings at the Regional Levels to get others involved. She recently invited her Regional Director, made an introduction, and has now gained the support of her Senior Leadership. This partnership has benefited multiple departments and Jen is to thank for such wonderful support."

 

Stephanie Salonga

Health & Fitness Volunteer of the Year

Stephanie Salonga

Virtual (Las Vegas, NV)

From her nomination:

"Stephanie is our athletes' favorite virtual fitness coach. Her workouts are fun, high-energy, and she finds ways to naturally engage the athletes by calling out their names, providing moments of encouragement, and making jokes - these little touches make the athletes feel as if she's right with them in their homes. 

Stephanie also single-handedly recruited eight additional staff members to lead workouts with the athletes, and made sure the proper workout exercises and modifications were known, so everyone had what they needed to engage in a successful workout.  Stephanie always answers the call to lead our workouts, even on short notice. The athletes and the staff love her, and she has been a highlight of our pandemic program.”

 

Jeff Godfrey

LETR Volunteer of the Year

Jeff Godfrey

Stanislaus County

From his nomination:

"Jeff has been an integral member of the LETR and the LETR executive committee. He goes over and beyond to raise funds, awareness, and engage new LETR partners. He is truly an inspiration, and has singled-handedly been responsible for raising tens of thousands of dollars. He's a strong advocate for his community and for SONC athletes, is willing to travel to other LETR events outside of his designated area, uses his days off of work to attend meetings, plan LETR-related events, and speak about the cause. And he does all of it with a smile on his face.”

 

Steve Mariucci

Philanthropy Co-Volunteer of the Year

Steve Mariucci and the Mariucci Family Foundation

Santa Clara County

From his nomination:

"The Mariucci Family Foundation has generously donated proceeds from their annual Battle of the Bay bocce tournament to SONC for years. Coach Mariucci has also supported SONC publicly and has made several guest appearances at SONC fundraisers, and has a genuine respect and love for individuals with intellectual disabilities. In 2020, with many events not taking place, Coach Mariucci maintained his support and matched past donations from the Battle of the Bay. In 2021, the Foundation donated $100,000! Mariucci's publicity is used with positive intentions, and helps draw attention to the SONC mission.”

 

Melanie Hunter

 Philanthropy Co-Volunteer of the Year

Melanie Hunter

Sacramento County

From her nomination:

"Melanie is a selfless advocate for Special Olympics and cares deeply about the betterment of the athletes. She uses her time, resources and public image as an on-air talent at KCRA 3 Sacramento to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics Northern California. She is easy to work with, responsible and puts the utmost effort into everything she does. Melanie is always willing to do more, and continued to engage with us even during the pandemic. She has emceed numerous events, sits on the Polar Plunge Committee, volunteers at competitions and hosted trainings for Athlete Leaders.”

 

Heidi Matlack

Program Support Volunteer of the Year

Heidi Matlack

Sacramento County

From her nomination:

"Heidi coordinated all sport events, managed the team database and website, assisted with coaching in golf, and established a level of professionalism that is difficult to replicate. She recruited a new team manager and has provided endless resources and minutes of consultant training to bring the new manager up to speed. She is most deserving of recognition for all that she and her husband, Paul, have done from the creation of this team until their much-deserved retirement.”

 

Dianne Berry

Rookie Volunteer of the Year

Diane Berry

Contra Costa County

From her nomination:

"Diane filled in for our basketball head coach for the Rockets team. She was informative and kept everyone up-to-date on COVID-19 policies and upcoming practices.  She continually pushed to do what she could to show my sons and the team how valued they were, even by getting approved for a few extra practices.  She remains in her way of spreading optimism by initiating her help in managing our track and field team alongside me.  She is determined to give our team the best experience possible!”

 

Sharon - Schools Volunteer of the Year

Schools Volunteer of the Year

Sharon Sobel Idul

Sacramento County

From her nomination:

"During the past five years, I have observed Sharon’s passion for providing an equitable environment for all students. Sharon serves as the head unified cheer/dance coach for Pittsburg High School, and meets each student where they are and helps students of all levels feel comfortable performing their dance routine. By working together collaboratively, students build inter-personal relationships and get to know one another on an equal basis. Sharon does a great job helping students build these positive relationships despite their differences entering the classroom.”

 

Ari Moltenni

Youth Volunteer of the Year

Ari Molteni

Sonoma County

From her nomination:

"Ari always goes above and beyond and has led multiple Youth Activation Committee initiatives, including running virtual Young Athletes Programs, spearheading the planning for a Community Sports Game Night Activity, and helping to brainstorm ideas for Inclusive Spirit Week. Ari decided she wanted to base her entire senior project on Unified Champion Schools and is working on creating a program that will have a lasting impact and continue on after she graduates. Ari has dedicated the last two years to Special Olympics and has been a huge asset to the organization.” 

 

2021 Volunteer of the Year Nominees:

Aaron Woolam, Alexa Cabuto, Alexa Izmirian, Amanda Young, Bill Rohret, Bob Salera, Bodey Dressler, Bonnie Fiegel, Bonnie Silverman, Brian Wentzel, Carl Gayle, Chargers, Chris Gonzales, Dan Fox, Dave and Linda Clements, Dean Rossen Logan, Don Collins, Dr. Lindsay McGraw, Floren Cheung , Gracy Joslin, Greg Keenan, Holly Winnen, Hunter Morgan, In- Shape  (Coach Tom Lange, Coach Josh Gregor, Coach Jaime Bey and Coach Condy Burdick), Isabel Ortega, Jackie Wheeler, Jason Weatherby, Jenn Wilson-Marchino , Jennifer Hardwick, Jerry Morucci, Jock Mayes and Joynell Armer, Jodi Williams, Jody Johnson, John Caramucci, John Simeon, Josh Milton, Kay King, Keith Austin, Linda Shuman Prins , Lindsey Bolinger, Lindsey Boling, Manuel Mejia, Maria Falcon, Mark Marshall, Melanie Kakalec, Mike Inchausti, Outfront Media, Pamela Espinoza, Renu and Alex Pontil, Rodney Hayes, Roxanne Lara, Sarah Watson, Shamrock, Sharon Scudero, Shirley Surber, SPG, Stefanie Terrill, Stephanie Ching , Steve and Jennifer Highland, Suzy Jordan, Team Oakland, Teresa Held, Tim O'Brien, Tom Novello, Tyler Cobb

 

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