American Canyon presented its version of the Oscars on Saturday night, only these awards went to residents and business owners who have gone above and beyond in supporting the community.
The 17th annual Community Recognition Ball, presented by the Parks and Recreation Department, celebrated more than a hundred individuals with certificates and plaques for their dedication to civic organizations and efforts in American Canyon.
The evening’s top honor, known as the Gateway Award, was presented to Karina Servente, a first-generation Guatemalan-American who has been a “force of service” in the communit since she made American Canyon her home in 2009, according to Mayor Leon Garcia.
“Some call [the Gateway] the lifetime achievement award,” Servente told the audience of nearly 300 people, “and in my six years here, I can honestly say I’ve lived a lifetime’s worth of happiness.”
During her short time in American Canyon, Servente has dedicated herself to myriad city committees and nonprofit groups, including the American Canyon Parks and Community Services Commission, the Moms Club (current president), Relay for Life, the 4th of July celebration planning committee, the bocce ball committee, the Highway 29 stakeholders commission, Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, AYSO soccer league, Little League and more.
Servente was both emotional and humorous in her acceptance speech, saying: “Don’t let this award fool you, folks, I’m still taking invitations to join your organization, club or bake sale.”
The Recognition Ball also was an opportunity to award the city’s business, youth and firefighter of the year.
Business of the Year was presented to Fast Signs, whose owner, Walt Perlic, “has never said ‘no’ to any group that has gone to him for help,” said City Councilmember Mark Joseph in presenting the award.
Perlic was credited for providing or donating banners and signs to city events as well as sponsoring others, like Relay for Life.
Fast Signs opened its doors nine years ago in American Canyon, at a time when people told Perlic he was “crazy” to do so.
“Everyone told us how hard it was going to be to open a business [here],” said Perlic after the conclusion of the Recognition Ball.
“We’re so grateful we did,” he said. “This is a great community, they supported us from the beginning. They continue to support us and refer us, and a big part of our success is being a part of this community.”
The Youth of the Year award was shared by five students from American Canyon High School: Lindsey Lofas, Paulina Vega, Nicolle Polo Malo, Aimee Perez and Shareileen Raymundo.
The five juniors were nominated by teacher Elizabeth Goff, who runs ACHS’ community-oriented Link Crew. The young women stood out among the nearly 80 Link Crew members for their commitment to helping other students feel welcome and succeed in high school, according to Councilmember Belia Ramos.
The evening’s remaining top award, Firefighter of the Year, went to paramedic Chad Pilkington, who has been with the American Canyon Fire Department for less than three years.
A member of the fire department’s urban search and rescue team, Pilkington “distinguished himself” through his community education efforts, according to Fire Chief Glenn Weeks.
Pilkington has been the lead and coordinator for the department’s HEARTSafe Initiative, which trains adults and youth in CPR and the use of portable defibrillators.
Police Officer of the Year will be awarded next year, now that the fire and police departments have decided to alternate their honors.