Linda Gott-Maddox named Citizen of the Year

Before a large crowd of community members, Linda Gott-Maddox was named 2015 North Fork Citizen of the Year .

The announcement was made by last year’s honoree Janet Wheeler at the annual North Fork Boosters awards dinner, Feb. 27, at North Fork Town Hall.

Gott-Maddox, a customer care specialist for 10 years with Ponderosa Telephone in O’Neals, is one of the original members of the North Fork Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, helps raise funds for schools through the Children’s Educational Foundation of the Chawanakee Unified School District (Casino Night, scholarships, and teacher grants), and has served as co-chair of the Eastern Madera County Relay for Life event the past two years.

A 24-year resident of North Fork, Gott-Maddox also volunteers for the North Fork Library, Mid-State Loggers Jamboree, Grizzlie Century Bicycle Ride, the Bass Lake MyTri Youth Triathlon, and is a Sunday School teacher at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church in Oakhurst.

The oldest of five children, she gives credit to her parents, the late Fred and Sally Gott, who at one time ran two shops at Old Town, for teaching her the importance of responsibility and caring for others at an early age. She saw first hand how her father and mother loved their family, genuinely cared for their friends, and wanted to make their lives better.

“They taught us how important education, faith, and curiosity are to children, and how every person matters, no matter their age,” Gott-Maddox said. “My mom was also pretty independent for a woman of her time. She was an Army Corps Nurse during WWII, worked as an RN during our early childhood, indulged in her love of and talent for growing plants by designing, and taking care of the landscaping and indoor plant décor for three restaurants in San Diego before they moved to North Fork. She was the introverted one ... my dad the extrovert.”

Fred Gott, a retired art teacher, was known for playing Santa for Mountain Area children for many years, and for his comedic talents with North Fork’s Squirrel Cage Theatre.

Gott-Maddox’s philosophy on community service starts with choosing causes that you are passionate about.

“Select causes or people you believe in, then it won’t be ‘work’ it will be a ‘joy,’” Gott-Maddox said. “Volunteering is never done in a vacuum. It takes many people to get something done – and it doesn’t have to be a huge commitment of time. There have been so many times when someone will come up and ask if there’s something they can do at an event, and it’s been at the exact moment when an extra hand is needed.”

She advises adults to have their children see them volunteer, and let them get involved in a project.

“Their enthusiasm is so contagious plus they are learning how communities thrive best,” Gott-Maddox said. “Also, if you’re a young parent - with very limited time - help out in your child’s classroom or on field trips. You get to spend time with your child and help the teacher.

North Fork Boosters President Cathey Thornburg said Gott-Maddox has been giving back to this community for as long as she can remember.

“Linda is a quiet hard working volunteer ... she gives so much to several different organizations,” Thornburg said. “ I’m happy I can call Linda a true friend. I’d also like to congratulate each of the nominees who all give so much to our community.”

“Linda knows practically everyone that enters our Customer Care office, and those she doesn’t, she makes them feel right at home,” said Ponderosa Human Resources Manager Chris Thorns. “In 2012, she received California Communications Association’s Community Spirit Award, and Ponderosa was proud to nominate Linda for her unselfish contributions to her community and sincere dedication to the company.”