The 20th Annual Angels and Heroes Amongst Us will be a little different from previous years. Sponsored by the Mountain Bear Fan Club, Mountain Area first responders who protect and serve the community, and those businesses and individuals who were directly involved in recent fires will be honored.
The Angels Amongst Us luncheon will be held 1 p.m., Nov. 5, at Evergreen Conference Center of Oakhurst. There is no charge for the meal.
The first responders and businesses to be honored are:
☆ Box Feed and Claudia Box
☆ Cal Fire
☆ California Highway Patrol
☆ Central California Animal Disaster Team (CCADT)
☆ Citizens on Patrol
☆ Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds
☆ Madera County Sheriff’s Office
☆ Mountain Feed and Nursery
☆ Oakhurst Feed & Pet Supply
☆ Red Cross local MMM Chapter
☆ Sierra National Forest Firefighters (Bass Lake Ranger District)
☆ Steve’s Pet Shop
This year’s angel nominees are:
☆ Laura and Bill Huddleson have been the caretakers of Fresno Flats Historical Park since 2002. Whenever there is a special event Laura, who is legally blind, helps the person in charge of the event. In addition to her other duties Laura gives great tours. She will give a tour to whoever would like one. Bill is a great handyman and does numerous repairs on his own to help save money for the Park. They are a great asset for Fresno Flats.
☆ Richard E. LaMontagne is a retired pastor, and has always served the people of the mountains well with his natural unconditional love, care and guidance. He is a member of the Griswold Mountain Detachment 1121 of the Marine Corps League where he is chaplain and member of the Honor Guard and liaison to the Boy Scouts. He is route manager of the Toys for Tots and assists with Avenue of Flags at Oakhill Cemetery on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and donates time for the Knights of Columbus monthly spaghetti dinners and with their food trailer at community celebrations. He ministers to shut-ins at Oakhurst Healthcare and Wellness Centre. He leads silent retreats at ECCO. LaMontagne is a quiet, unassuming person in the mountain community and we are privileged to have him.
☆ Diane McDonough is dedicated to helping dogs and cats. She volunteers one day a week at Animal Rescue of Fresno (ARF) where she plays with the dogs and gives them treats while there. She also fosters dogs and cats (and usually ends up adopting many of them). She makes animal themed quilts and gives them to animal rescue organizations for their silent and live auctions. McDonough is also actively involved in her quilt guild's project to make Christmas stockings for foster children in Madera County. She makes stockings, zippered pouches and pillow cases for the children and generously donates items for their stockings. She is a hidden gem in the Mountain Area.
☆ For 12 years Dave and Susan Myers have devoted themselves tirelessly to the mountain community by volunteering in both the North Fork Auxiliary Fire Department and the Madera County Sheriff's Citizens on Patrol (COP) program. As a founding member of the Fire Department Auxillary, Susan was instrumental in obtaining their nonprofit status and Dave can always be found barbecuing at the department's annual barbeque. As part of the Sheriff's COP program they are team leaders, trainers and mentors to many new volunteers. Their duties range from traffic control at events to closing roads and assisting with evacuations during fires. Dave and Susan's dedication to the mountain community is impressive in that they contributed approximately 500 hours last year alone.
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.
The club which provides more than 10,000 teddy bears annually to fire departments, the sheriffs 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.