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Senior Volunteer Awards

By Jacquie Oliverius
Contra Costa Times
November 19, 2008

It was a full house when the Culture to Culture Foundation held a very special ceremony Oct. 5 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek.

Thirty-five seniors, ages 55 and older, were nominated, mostly by those who are involved in the area's senior community, for the foundation's first Senior Volunteer Awards for voluntarily serving in the community during the last year.

A panel of judges narrowed the field to eight finalists and then to the four final award winners, who each were given a plaque and a $250 cash prize, including Pat DuPont, LaVerne Gordon, Tina Olton and Ray Zenoni.

The awards were created by Chia-Chia Chien, founder of the Culture to Culture Foundation, and Linda Stolow, coordinator for the foundation.

The nonprofit foundation was established in 2001 to provide services for Asian seniors who had come to the United States with younger family members. Its center was opened three years later in Alamo, and over the years, the foundation has reached out to more and more seniors in Central County.

"It was a very difficult process to choose the four winners since every one is doing a wonderful job for our community," said Chien.

The activities of the four award winners are impressive and I only have room to mention a few. DuPont is a volunteer at the Pinole Senior Center, putting in more than 100 hours of volunteer work each month. Gordon is 90-ish years young, and her face beams out from the Area Agency on Aging's AARP Tax Aide Web site as its coordinator.

Olton is a volunteer with the county Senior Peer Counseling Program, reaching out to other seniors who are in need of assistance and a helping hand. And Zenoni is a "valued volunteer" with Senior Outreach Services' Meals on Wheels and Friendly Visitors programs.

The other four seniors in the final eight were Nora LaPointe, Harry Jayasingha, Earle Ormiston and Sandra Smith.

All eight received certificates of appreciation from the offices of Assembly members Guy Houston and Mark DeSaulnier and state Sen. Tom Torlakson. In addition, plants were given to all eight seniors and their nominators.

Hats off to the award winners, to all of the seniors who were nominated and to the foundation. For more on the foundation, visit the Web site at

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