Mat Sands 2014 Honorary Mayor

After an eventful three months of campaigning and fundraising, Mathew Sands was named Oakhurst's 2014 Honorary Mayor — much to the delight of his Boys & Girls Club (BGC) campaign team, Melanie Barker (board president), Eric Wood and Bob Macaulay (board members).

"I couldn't have managed 16 events without them," Sands said. "I'd like to thank my campaign team, sponsors and all my friends, family and community neighbors that made this happen. Even though the mayoral campaign has come to an end, the fundraising has not." According to Sands, there are other events in the works to benefit the club.

The monies raised during these past three months will be placed in the general fund for the BGC day-to-day operations.

"This has been a great experience for the club and good for the community to see the need we fill," Barker said. "Because we're the only club in Madera County located in an unincorporated town, grant funds are difficult to obtain so it's incumbent upon the Board of Directors to raise funds regularly for the BGC operational revenues."

One ongoing fundraiser is the Power of 12, which is where donations of $12 per month are made over a 12-month period.

"If we had 500 people donate $12 per month," Barker explained, "that would cover our operating expenses — and anything above that could go to additional programs to benefit the community youth."

Currently, BGC charges a membership fee; however, according to Barker, if the operating expenses were covered through fundraising and donations, that fee would no longer be necessary.

Sands not only credits his campaign team, along with the generous community, for his success, but the partnership with area businesses — especially South Gate Brewing and sponsor Sierra Tel. One of his goals was to use the mayoral platform to introduce the Sounds of Solstice Music Festival, which will now be an annual event to benefit the BGC.

"This community needs activities for the youth," Sands said, "and the Boys and Girls Club provides a positive and safe environment for the kids."

Sands had no more than finished his sentence when Marilyn Rigg of State Farm Insurance walked up with check in hand.

"I think all our non-profits do a great job," Rigg said, "and I believe the Boys & Girls Club offers a much-needed service for our children up here."

"The BGC is just one of many local non-profits that need the community's support," Sands explained. "As your honorary mayor, I will continue to support all these great organizations, and I encourage you to do the same."

Other 2014 candidates

Michael Costa raised funds for the Little Church on the Hill.

"It's been a long haul," Costa said, "but I've had a wonderful time. I've met so many nice people along the way, and am happy that we brought awareness to the Little Church on the Hill, reaching a wide range of age groups from eight years to 80."

"It's been a real adventure and never dull," Jackie Mallouf, Costa's campaign manager and board member added. "Michael has so much energy, so much enthusiasm and just a great attitude."

The revenues Costa raised will be used to pay for the last two exterior walls of the historic building.

Zona Cahill represented the Sierra Senior Society, and was thrilled that, in addition to raising funds, she raised awareness about the center and the activities it offers.

"I picked this organization because I live here, I'm a senior, and more than half this town doesn't even know we exist or where the Senior Center is located," Cahill said.

The monies she raised will be put to good use improving the Senior Center for the next group of seniors — the Baby Boomers.

The Sierra Senior Society offers Mountain Area seniors a variety of services and programs — like wood carving and bridge. A nutritional lunch is served every weekday for a donation of $1.75.

Now a Chamber foundation event

This is the first year that this community-wide event was run by the Eastern Madera County Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Previously, the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce has administrated the event.

"Mat, Michael and Zona are to be commended for all the time, energy and resources they have tirelessly committed on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club of Oakhurst, the Little Church on the Hill and the Sierra Senior Society respectively," Executive Director of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce Darin Soukup said.

"On behalf of the Chamber, I congratulate all three candidates on their well run campaigns. As always, our community has once again stepped up and provided tremendous support to the candidates and their causes. I am confident that the Eastern Madera County Chamber of Commerce Foundation will continue to be a very good home for this very important community event."

"Administering the 2014-15 Honorary Mayor Campaign was a pleasure for the foundation. While getting to know the three candidates, the foundation was also able to fulfill its mission to facilitate and provide a mechanism for community-based projects," foundation treasurer Karen White added. "Congratulations to Honorary Mayor Mat Sands. The foundation looks forward to a fun and successful term for him."

During their three months of fundraising, the candidates cumulatively raised more than $16,000. Approximate individual totals are: Sands, $8,600; Costa, $6,500; and Cahill, $1,200.

Previous Honorary Mayor winners

2013 Brian Gearhart

2012 John K. Burton

2011 Rima Runtzel

2010 John K. Burton

2009 Brian Gearhart

2008 Laura Bean

2007 J. Carol Graham

2006 Brian Gearhart

2005 Mary Lou Finley

2004 Monika Moulin

2003 Sonia Crane

2002 Earlene Keller

2001 Toni Lagunoff

2000 Dennis Fairbanks

1999 Matt Walker

1998 Bob LeBelle

1997 John Hays

1996 Gary Pence