Supervisor Tom Wheeler and Patti Law-Poggi were named man and woman "Angels" of the year at the 17th Annual Angels Amongst Us dinner Nov. 3.
The dinner, attended by 120 honorees and guests, is sponsored by the Mountain Bear Fan Club, to recognize those special people in the Mountain Area who work behind-the-scenes.
"These angels awards are for those who work diligently at helping others and are usually in the background," said Beverly Gordon, president of the club. "Most of the time these are people who are not seeking recognition for the great things they do to improve the quality of life in the Mountain Area these are the people that the Angels awards are about."
It was announced that Wheeler was selected not for political reasons but for all the other things he has done for the mountain community.
For 30 years, Wheeler managed the 4,500-acre Frank Wyle's Circle W. Ranch, and also owned and managed his own private business.
Believing that a person should give back to the community, he coached youth soccer for 10 years, and for more than 18 years served as a trustee on various school boards, including Sierra High School, North Fork Elementary School, and the Chawanakee and Minarets boards.
Wheeler is the recipient of the Golden Apple Award for Education and has also been selected North Fork Citizen of the Year.
"It was surprising and humbling to be named Man of the Year by the Mountain Bear Fan Club," Wheeler said. "There have been so many great people honored over the last 16 years, and to now be included wow. I'm very proud and honored to be named the Five Decades of Mountain Community Service Angel."
Law-Poggi is known as the Dance Queen of the Mountain Area, mostly on a volunteer basis. Forty-six years ago, she was one of the founders of the Golden Chain Theater and created the Grub Gulch Grannies and CanCan Girls.
Over the years, she has devoted herself to teaching not only dancing but acting and confidence-building to children and adults alike. Law-Poggi came to Hollywood from England as a stage dancer, dancing professionally.
She was surprised by her honor.
"It's been my pleasure and honor to teach dancing to children and adults in the area for the past 46 years ... I am surprised but extremely grateful for this honor."
Mary Lou Finley announced the awards that were presented to Wheeler and Law- Poggi.
"What a great opportunity for me to have been asked to present these awards to two very worthy recipients who I have known, loved and respected for many, many years," Finley said. "I'm very happy that they've been recognized for all they've done and all the many hours they've dedicated to serving the Mountain Area."
Business of the Year
The Met Heros (Matt Sconce, Keith Walker and James Nelson) was selected as Business of the Year.
Saving Oakhurst's Met Cinema was a plan the three men put together to save the theater that went out of business, using a subscription model.
Sconce is an award-winning director/writer/filmmaker. His most recent feature film, Fire Fall, was shown in Oakhurst last year. He won a national American Idol music video contest, and has been a youth leader at a local church for the past nine years.
Walker has a Masters Degree from Carnegie Mellon in Software Engineering and has been in the aerospace industry for more than 10 years.
The idea of Saving the Met using a subscription model was the brainchild of James Nelson.
Group of the Year
Two organizations were named Group of the Year Madera County Ahwahnee Volunteer Fire Department, Company 16, for serving and protecting the community year-round, and E. Clampus Vitus, for their community service of placing markers at historic sites throughout the Mountain Area. The Clampers also volunteer in restoring historical buildings throughout the community. They recently dedicated a monument celebrating the 100-plus year old John C. Shay Blacksmith Shop and his home on Road 600 near the historic goldmining town of Grub Gulch.
John and Joyce Granger were selected for the Couple of the Year honors and a special angel award was presented to organizers of the Community Food Bank Martha Day, Rudy and Marci Paminto, Beverly Jones, Paul Trumpower, Pat Masoner, and Mary Brown.
The inaugural Jean's Angel Bear award was presented to the Friends of the Library in honor of long-time club member Jean Eaton who passed away in December 2012.
Accepting on behalf of the group were board members Candace Flammang, president, Elaine Cox, Sherri Colgate, Gene Kreighoff and Angie Pizelo.
Every member of the Friends of the Library who were present at the dinner were invited to select a teddy bear from Eaton's personal collection.
Gordon said all the nominees do what they do without any expectation of thanks or recognition.
"They are the people who go way beyond the ordinary definition of 'friend' or 'good neighbor,' Gordon said. "They go the extra mile supporting local programs, activities, and dreams of future goals and improvements for Mountain Area residents of all ages."
The nominating committee, consisting of five Mountain Bear Fan Club members, selected the winners. The committee tends to look for those volunteers who go above and beyond rather than someone who is paid for what they do.
Other nominees were:
John Duncan (The Healing Angel)
Virginia Galazin (Library Angel)
Kay & Jack Good
Joyce & John Granger (Horseman's Angel)
Carla & Ray Griesner
Jackie Hughes (Thrift Shop Angel)
Cathy Ladig (Newspaper delivery Angel)
Jarrod Lyman (PR Angel)
Lynda Lyons (Good Neighbor Angel)
Mickey Puckett (Good Neighbor Angel)
Ellen Jackson Peterson (Youth Angel)
Stella Pizelo (Busy Bee Angel)
The Mountain Bear Fan Club is a local den of Good Bears of the World (GBW). They serve the mountain community by providing teddy bears to Urgent Care, volunteer Fire Departments, shelters, churches, Highway Patrol, CDF, nursing homes, schools, individuals and families in need.
This club donates more than 10,000 teddy bears annually, more than any other den in the GBW.