Winning Ways


We spotlight this year’s winners of the Community Services Planning Council’s People Helping People Awards.

Community service is a growth industry.

According to Nancy Findeisen, president and chief executive officer of the Community Services Planning Council, volunteering is on the rise, especially among young people and the business community.

We’re seeing the business community make volunteerism part of their business plan, Findeisen says. They see the connection between business and wanting to make their neighborhoods better.

For the 19th year, the council is giving away its People Helping People Awards to honor volunteers in the Sacramento area.

Companies build on their employees’ passions for doing community service, Findeisen says. They encourage employees to volunteer, give special recognition to employees who volunteer, give them time off work to do community service or match hours of donated time with monetary contributions.

We see hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of money, time and talents being given to enhance our community, Findeisen says.

As interest in community service grows, the Community Services Planning Council is there to connect people in need with resources and to connect volunteers with a community activity, she says. The council’s Hands On Sacramento program links potential volunteers with activities, and already almost 7,000 people in the community are on the group’s monthly e-mail list of volunteer opportunities. (Click on to sign up.)

The council also coordinates Infoline Sacramento, soon to be 211 Sacramento, a three-digit hotline for getting help from volunteers and agencies.

Here are the award winners, who were announced at a recent luncheon, the proceeds from which went to Hands On Sacramento and Infoline.

Unsung Hero Award

>> Shirley Johnson

For 25 years, this Colonial Park resident has been an activist, advocate, caregiver, mentor and teacher to hundreds of children, youth and young adults. She rallied neighbors to start the Colonial Park Arts & Recreation Effort, which targeted drugs, prostitution and vandalism in the neighborhood and launched mentoring programs that are still active today.

Youth Volunteer Award

>> Jimmy Jordan

This Elk Grove High School senior has served on the Sacramento County Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board for two years, working to reduce underage drinking. He has helped with forums and outreach to young people, petitioned the state regarding placing a tax on flavored malt beverages and volunteers with Friday Night Live.

Senior Volunteer Award

>> Eppie Johnson

Founder of the Eppie’s restaurant chain and the world’s oldest triathlon, Eppie Johnson has been contributing to the community for 55 years. Since its inception in 1974, Eppie’s Great Race has raised more than $900,000 for Sacramento County’s mentally and physically challenged people. Johnson also volunteers his time to programs benefiting the American River Parkway, public television and the Greek Orthodox Church.

Service Club and Association Achievement Award

>> Elk Grove Lions Club

From its beginning in 1951, the Elk Grove Lions Club has been counted on to do community improvement projects in Elk Grove, including building baseball park backstops, wheelchair ramps, a horse arena for developmentally disabled children and housing for disabled people.

The club raises money for seniors, donates glasses and hearing aids to the needy, and funds children’s day camps. The club also uses its members’ cooking skills to feed people at special events.

Hands On Sacramento Award for Encouraging Employee Volunteerism

>> Jones & Stokes

The Sacramento-headquartered environmental consulting company formed a Community Service Task Force to encourage employee volunteerism and benefit youth, education and the environment. The program, in its eighth year, connects employees to their communities through volunteerism at charities and fundraisers and allows them to donate specialized skills, such as landscape design and ecosystem-restoration planning.


Exceptional Community Support Award

>>Lennar Communities, Sacramento Division

This home-building company uses its construction know-how to contribute to the community. Lennar Communities, Sacramento Division, has built projects for local nonprofit groups through HomeAid, encourages company associates to benefit the community through its Focused Acts of Caring program and has constructed homes in areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. It also makes grants through the Lennar Charitable Housing Foundation.

Dick Cable People Helping People Media Award

>> Comcast

At Comcast, community involvement is big and includes Comcast Cares Day, during which more than 1,400 Central California Comcast employees volunteer in their communities; a Fifth-Grade Reading Challenge; a Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program; teaming up with VH1 to donate musical equipment to schools; and foundation grants.

Exceptional Community Support Small Business Award

>> PASCO scientific

Through its PASCO Foundation, this Roseville company, which designs, manufactures and services products for science educators, ensures that every cent donated by employees goes to a nonprofit agency. Employees can designate where they want their money to go or a foundation committee designates funds to charities it has researched, including those that help youth, the hungry and the homeless, disaster victims, the elderly, disabled people and those with mental or medical health needs.

Sustained Community Achievement Award

>> Aerojet and the GenCorp Foundation

Since 2000, the GenCorp Foundation has distributed more than $5.5 million toward education, health and human services, the arts and civic groups in communities nationwide. Through its Aerojet Delivers program, employees give money and volunteer time. Through its Adventures in Aerospace program, rocket scientists visit classrooms.

People Helping People Awards Category Descriptions

Dick Cable People Helping People Media Award
Recognizing a media organization or member of the media for exceptional community service.

Exceptional Community Support Award
Recognizing a business that has provided outstanding support for community projects and charities.

Exceptional Community Support Small Business Award
Recognizing a business with fewer than 50 employees that has provided outstanding support for community projects and charities.

Hands On Sacramento Award for Encouraging Employee Volunteerism
Recognizing a business that supports employee volunteer projects as well as encouraging year-round employee volunteerism.

Senior Volunteer Award
Recognizing an individual volunteer older than age 65 who has performed a special deed or project.

Service Club and Association Achievement Award
Recognizing a service club or business association for implementing projects that substantially expand beyond normal operations and demonstrate significant community impact.

Sustained Community Achievement Award
Recognizing a business for significant contributions and identified community impact over many years.   

Unsung Hero Award
Recognizing an individual who  has performed a special deed or project not previously recognized.

Youth Volunteer Award

Recognizing an individual volunteer younger than age 21 who has performed a special deed or project.                 

People Helping People Awards Nominees

AAA of Northern California

Aerojet and the GenCorp Foundation

Margie Black

Ceronix, Inc.

Joe Chiodo


CPS Human Resource Services

Delta Dental

Elk Grove Lions Club

Encore! Studio of Performing Arts

Merry Geil

Eppie Johnson

Shirley Johnson

Jones & Stokes

Jimmy Jordan

Leadership Sacramento program, Class of 2006

Lennar Communities, Sacramento Division

Elisabeth Mathew

Joyce and Grover McCurdy


PASCO scientific

Lois Price

John Rosa

Rotary Club of Sacramento

Mindi Russell

Sacramento Association of Realtors

Sacramento Magazines Corporation

James Gregory Scott

Standard Pacific Homes

Mildred Thacker and Ophelia Avalo

Wells Fargo

Western Health Advantage

Dave Wilson