On Sept. 10 at the Community Recreation Center was the City of Santa Clara’s State of the City and Community Awards, which recognized outstanding local citizens for their contributions to the community.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor recognized St. Justin Community Ministry for the Citywide Community Award.
“Throughout the pandemic, St. Justin Community Ministry served Santa Clara admirably, distributing food, clothing and household items to those most in need,” Gillmor said. “St. Justin Community Ministry serves 2,400 Santa Clarans per month, five days a week, staffed with mostly volunteers. The ministry distributes sack lunches, groceries, toiletries, home healthcare equipment and occasionally even dog and cat food.”
District 2 Council Member Raj Chahal recognized Hassnain Malik.
“[Hassnain] has been an active leader of the Scouts, as a den leader, scoutmaster, unit commissioner, course director for the National Youth Leadership Training and serves on the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council,” said Chahal, also mentioning Malik’s Silver Beaver Award and work for the Muslim Community Association.
District 3 Council Member Karen Hardy recognized Tom Freitas.
“[Tom] designed and built the garden area at Bowers Elementary School and built the shelves and desks for the Senior Center and Central Park Library,” Hardy said. “More recently, Tom volunteered at the Senior Center’s woodshop where he supervised and worked with our seniors, leading a program in woodworking.”
District 4 Council Member Kevin Park recognized Harjinder Pal, owner of Ganesha Indian Cuisine.
“Whether it was [offering] electricity for charging devices, repairs for bicycles, or even just food and water, Mr. Pal made an impression on the unhoused people who knew him by name,” Park said.
District 6 Council Member Anthony Becker recognized Julie Clark on behalf of Stan’s Donuts.
“Stan’s is a part of Santa Clara’s rich history, attracting locals and out-of-towners alike with their deliciously famous donuts,” Becker said. “They’ve provided a tasty treat for our community for 63 years.”
District 1 Council Member Kathy Watanabe recognized Rohit Bhasin.
“Mr. Bhasin is the creator of Rivermark Skaters, a not-for-profit community organization he started in June of 2000, offering free classes to anyone who wants to learn how to skate or rollerblade,” Watanabe said. “Rohit brings over 20 years of skating experience to his teaching with Rivermark Skaters, making his free instruction a true benefit to the health and wellness of our community.”
“The most gratifying thing about running this group is the satisfaction I get from seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces and seeing these kids gain self-confidence by teaching others,” Bhasin said. “This group focuses exclusively on in-line rollerblading. We meet every other week at the Oracle Santa Clara campus. At our meetings, we have a lightweight hockey session for anyone in the intermediate level. We have children and skaters from all levels and abilities. We have an adults-only session as well.”
District 5 Council Member and Vice Mayor Suds Jain recognized Ana Vargas-Smith.
“Ana is the consummate Santa Claran,” Jain said. “She is the driving force behind the return of the Santa Clara Parade of Champions. She serves on the Downtown Community Task Force. She also serves on the Historical and Landmarks Commission. On top of that, she’s a Santa Clara small business owner.”
Vargas-Smith co-owns Eggs by the Bay, a Santa Clara-based cooking school, event venue and retail store selling ceramic cookers. Juggling her business with her community service, Vargas-Smith is still looking for volunteers to help at the Oct. 1 Parade of Champions and for year-round projects. She asks to be contacted at the email found on the parade website.
“I volunteered for the parade back in high school, and now look at me, I’m still volunteering for the parade,” Vargas-Smith said. “The parade brings downtown to life, it’s good for the local businesses, it revitalizes the downtown area, and it brings youth and seniors together. I feel blessed to have grown up in a small town like Santa Clara. We are a great community.”