What motivates someone to transform lives and change the world around them? What was the path that took them from pondering to creating and then to challenging the status quo? Sound like the making of an HBO drama? No, this is a real life mini-series on our channels! “Local Heroes” celebrates everyday people who feel called to acts of service and sacrifice.
On May 21, Midpen Media will honor this year’s Local Hero Award winners at the annual screening and reception. Louise Pencavel, creator of the “Local Heroes” series, will introduce this year’s recipients and together we will watch five video profiles that showcase the passion and dedication of this year’s winners. Pencavel has also created longer format videos of each Hero, which will run on our channels and be posted on our website. Pencavel started the series in order to call attention to extraordinary people in our own community - not only to honor them, but to tell their compelling stories, stories that inspire us to be the heroes of our own lives and perhaps even a champion of someone else’s life. Without these videos, the public might not know about their work and their stories. “Their lives and their stories are what define our community at its finest and I feel truly privileged to be able to share them,” Pencavel said.
The 2016 Recipients of Midpen Media’s Local Hero Awards are Tamar Sofer-Geri, Ashley McIntyre, Roger Vernon Smith, Mike Jones and Virginia Anderson.
When her daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, what did Tamar Sofer-Geri do? After the initial shock, she felt a strong desire to connect with other families affected by the illness, hear their stories, swap best practices, and support one another through this life-threatening condition. But she soon found that information was in silos and not really aggregated anywhere. That’s when she created the non-profit Carb DM,a word play implying, “seize diabetes.” Carb DM serves families in the Bay Area, providing resources and connecting them through instructional and social events held throughout the area.
As a youngster, Ashley McIntyre was a multi-sport competitive athlete. She knows what it takes to succeed in the face of hardship. But what made her take that competitive spirit and combine it with a counseling degree to inspire the other-abled to challenge their perceived limitations? As an Equine Therapist at BOK Ranch in Woodside, Ashley shares the therapeutic benefits of riding and caring for horses with her clients who, under her tutelage, soon find they can overcome obstacles they never imagined they could conquer and begin thinking in positive, new ways about themselves and their capabilities.
Roger Vernon Smith
Upon retirement, Roger Vernon Smith, founder of Silicon Valley Bank, wanted to give back to his community. He decided to devote his time, treasure and talent to the founding of an organization that supports the families of murder victims. Mothers Against Murder, or MAM, guides these families through the complex legal, financial and emotional maze into which murder has thrust them. Roger believes that victims often get lost in a system that favors the accused. He adds that the families have already been victimized once. MAM’s goal is to stop ongoing victimization by advocating for the legal rights of the surviving families in a supportive and loving context.
Mike Jones, Senior Unit Director at
The Mervin G. Morris Clubhouse of the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula in Redwood City, has not had an easy life: young and Black in Louisiana, the child of divorced parents, exposed to family violence and then contracting a debilitating illness. Early on, Mike decided to respond to it with love. Steadfastly sunny, optimistic and grateful for his blessings, he has transformed his own life challenges into a passionate caring for and mentoring of young people. He is deeply committed to helping our local youth find and nurture their own pathways to self-love and self-reliance.
Virginia Anderson, an Atherton-based therapist, wants to help people engage in life by acknowledging death. She volunteers her time to sit with the terminally ill in hospice care. She talks candidly and comfortably about death, in an effort to remove the taboos that prevent us from discussing it as an everyday topic of conversation. She routinely participates in Death Cafes, where people can talk freely about any and all aspects of death that concern them. She is confident that confronting our fear of death can free us from that fear. She believes deeply that living a full and engaged life is the best path to allowing us to embrace death with dignity and without regret.
In its tenth season, the Local Hero Award series has showcased almost 60 Heroes (and their affiliations). This year we will be adding a special tribute including all of our heroes to honor them and to celebrate our tenth anniversary.
By acknowledging some of the most interesting and inspiring community members with a great diversity of experiences, the Local Hero Awards series is creating an ongoing community quilt of our service area, an evolving snapshot of who we, as a community, are at our finest. The videos bring to life a picture of our community with a clarity and immediacy that is instantly evident upon viewing, which no other (non-television) award series can do. A vibrant historical record of our community is emerging and will grow in value over the coming years. These Heroes represent us. They are both a mirror to ourselves and ambassadors to the outside world – they are the best of who we are and what we have to offer. The videos are a living testament to their and our legacy.
Please join us to celebrate our Local Heroes. You will have the chance to meet our Heroes and hear their stories! The event is free and open to all, but donations always graciously accepted:
Saturday, May 21, 2016 from 7 – 9 pm
Midpen Media Center Studios
Space does fill quickly. RSVP by May 6 to Louise@midpenmedia.org
written by Becky Sanders