Surrounded by family and friends, Don Eaves and JoAnn Swallow were honored as the 2015 Man and Woman Angels of the Year, while Robin Wages and Tim Madden were chosen as Heroes of the Year Sunday during the 19th Annual “Angels & Heroes Amongst Us” awards dinner at Evergreen Conference Center.
“It’s very humbling,” Wages said. “I volunteer and do what I do to make other people happy and give back what I’ve been given.”
“I know all of us here, all of the honorees, we could not do this without the support of our families and our close friends,” said Madden, who thanked his wife Susan for creating the foundation for his volunteer service. “All of us, who are honorees here, realize that giving in service is a fun thing. We must, as parents and grandparents, teach our children and our grandchildren to be of service and give to our community, whether its local or global.”
The four winners, among others, were selected for their longlasting devotion to the community.
Eaves, manager at Yosemite Bank, is currently vice president of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, and chairperson for the Oakhurst Fall Festival. He also works with several charities to help improve the community.
“So many people do so many great things in the community, I’m just amazed that they chose me to be a recipient this year,” Eaves said.
Swallow has volunteered for the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, as a teacher’s aide and numerous school activities. Involved with the Coarsegold Rodeo for 27 years, Swallow also organizes Heritage Day, and serves as chair of the Coarsegold Community Center board.
Madden is past president of the Oakhurst Sierra Sunrise Rotary club, and has served on the Fall Festival committee board for several years while active in the community. He and his wife also provide water to undeveloped communities in the world.
Wages teaches disabled adults line dancing, assists in community meals, and homeless outreach. She also volunteers for museums, the visitors bureau, events at Fresno Flats, and works for the Golden Chain Theatre.
The event is sponsored by the Mountain Bear Fan Club, an organization of generous teddy bear lovers that annually provide 10,000 stuffed animals to fire departments, the sheriff’s department, California Highway Patrol, hospitals, shelters, social service agencies, veterinary hospitals, churches, nursing homes, schools, and urgent care for families who have been affected by a traumatic incident.
Other special recognition went to Glenn and Mary Bowman, as well as Brad and Patrice Jensen as Angel Couples of the Year, and to Chris and Lisa Baker of graphic design company Digital Mirrors as Angel Business of the Year. Lisa Baker is a graphic artist for the Sierra Star.
A full list of winners included: Carolyn Campbell for the Jane Eaton Library Award; Karen and Butch Morris and Steve and Linda Core for renovating the Coarsegold museum; Grady Bryant; Tara Neill; Cheryl Wilhite; Chris Stanley; Judy Reed; and Sara Williams with Kate Saubolle and Laurie and Curtis Howe.
Twenty eight Mountain Area residents were nominated for recognition this year for quietly doing good deeds and supporting projects to improve the quality of life in Eastern Madera County.
Bill Atwood acted as master of ceremonies.
Other nominees were Michael Baird, Lora and Curtis Haws, Gail Lipper, Andrew Pence, Judy Reed, Dan Rule, and Chris Stanley.
A raffle featuring numerous gifts from Mountain Area merchants and individuals was held during the evening to raise funds for the club.
Annual membership dues for the club are $20, and checks can be sent to Mountain Bear Fan Club, P.O. Box 2071, Oakhurst, Calif., 93644.
The non-profit Mountain Bear Fan club was founded by Toni Lagunoff and the late Jean Eaton in 1991 when they gathered a small group of friends to share how teddy bears comfort and help people smile during tough times.
Each nominee was awarded a teddy bear that was personalized to fit the honoree’s commitment to the community.
Note: For additional photos, see sierrastar.com.