On Oct. 21, the Mission City Community Fund (MCCF) hosted “Greater Giving Local Focus,” a virtual awards and auction event. Some of the money raised will go toward MCCF’s Non-profit of the Year, the College of Adaptive Arts.
“We are delighted to recognize College of Adaptive Arts as our 2021 Non-profit of the Year celebrating ten years of lifelong collegiate experiences for adults with special needs,” said Anne Kepner, MCCF Chairperson.
According to Dr. Pamela Lindsay, co-founder of the College of Adaptive Arts (CAA), CAA started in 2009 as one class in a dance studio. Right now, CAA operates out of West Valley College. Lindsay hopes to bring this model nationwide.
“Flash forward to 2021, and each quarter, we are serving upwards of 400 learning seats in 10 schools of study within a full liberal arts curriculum,” Lindsay said. “We work within the restrictions of the pandemic…We’ve been working online and having amazing programs, such as our musical theater programs and our film festival and library lecture series for students. Thanks to the support of MCCF…we’ve worked together to provide media equipment, digital signage and resources for business classes and our media lab.”
John Elwood, MCCF Board Member, introduced the River of Life Church and Foundation, receiving the Austen Warburton Community Service Award.
“Since its founding in 2007, the River of Life Foundation has been serving the residents of Santa Clara and the surrounding Silicon Valley with food and assistance programs,” Elwood said. “They have provided emergency food boxes, hot meals and healthcare kits to over 8,000 families a month.
“The Operation Care program receives and gives out furniture, small appliances, tools and equipment to needy families at no cost and is already reaching over 20,000 families to date,” Elwood continued. “The River of Life Foundation also supports the global community, giving international aid to orphan children in five African countries by providing safe lodging, education and medical care.”
“We need to join hands together because there is so much more for us to do,” Pastor Tong Liu said.
According to Sam Loh, President of the River of Life Foundation, beginning the week before Thanksgiving, the church will distribute turkeys during its food pantry’s hours of operation (Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Sunday 2 – 4 p.m.)
“Also, on Monday, Nov. 22, between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., we are inviting anyone in the community- families, seniors, or people who are low income to come to our facility at 1177 Laurelwood Road in Santa Clara for a hot turkey lunch,” Loh said. “The Mayor and Martin Yan from Yan Can Cook will join us.”
This year’s George & Donna Burdick Business Award went to the Fiorillo family of Fiorillo’s Restaurant. Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor shared that the late Vince Fiorillo is very much missed since his passing in 2010 but that his wife Elaine, son Michael, daughter Renee, and the rest of the Fiorillo family have continued his legacy.
“Providing great Italian meals to the community is only part of their story…During the pandemic, they stepped up their game,” Gillmor said. “Food had been regularly donated to the elderly and organizations like Stand Up for Kids Silicon Valley, hospitals, churches, non-profits and youth programs like Pop Warner football and PAL soccer.
“They have quietly given to food distribution programs and paid for medication or covered the bills for an elderly member of the community,” Gillmor continued. “They have been the angels who covered funeral costs for a family…or have given Christmas trees to needy families.”
“Since opening in 1977 in Santa Clara, we started with pizza by the slice and sandwiches,” Michael Fiorillo said. “I could remember my parents working 7 days a week, 15 hours a day, to provide for the family. My sister, at 10 years old, was standing on a milk crate running an old school cash register. My brother Jerry was the fastest pizza maker ever. And my brother Vincent, cutting and serving pizza to the customers. In 1987, my mother and father remodeled Fiorillo’s Restaurant, where we opened up to full service…Since then, we’ve grown into where we are at now at 638 El Camino Real in Santa Clara between Lafayette and Benton.”