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2024 Unsung Heroes Award Ceremony

On Saturday, April 13, 2024, Assemblymember Alex Lee hosted an award ceremony to recognize the unsung heroes of Assembly District 24. 25 individuals and organizations were honored for their contributions and commitment to the community. 

Rabia Adil was nominated by Muneerah Lalani 

Rabia Adil is a Board Member for the Pakistani - American Community Center, Inc. where she has organized events that  promote culture, education, women's empowerment, and civic duties. Rabia also volunteers for Sleeping Bags for the Homeless of Silicon Valley and Stratford Middle School.

Rabia Badar was nominated by Seema Badar 

Rabia Badar is the Founder of the Junior Civitans Club at Averroes High School. The Junior Civitans Club has partnered with local nonprofit organizations to help provide meals to those in need. They assist at local food banks, and support local park clean-ups. Rabia’s leadership helps young people find new ways to serve their communities.

Michelle Delos Angeles was nominated by Michael Kraus 

Michelle Delos Angeles is the Secretary for the Penitencia Neighborhood Association. She has helped organize block parties for National Night Out, coat drives for City Team, and community dumpster days. Michelle’s work has helped make the Penitencia neighborhood safer, improving the quality of life for its residents.

Linda Dewlaney was nominated by Dianne Jones 

Linda Dewlaney is a longtime volunteer for students in Fremont. She has worked with the PTA for over 23 years, served on the board of the Fremont Education Foundation, and helped students as a school crossing guard. Linda has also volunteered for the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, the Tri-City Nonprofit Coalition, and Spectrum Community Services.

Tammy Duran was nominated by Charlie Deterline 

Tammy Duran is the South Program Manager for SOS Meals on Wheels serving Newark, Fremont, and Union City, where she oversees the distribution of meals to over 300 homebound adults who rely on SOS Meals on Wheels for nutritious meals and wellness checks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tammy ensured that there was not a missed day of service.

Thomas Ekman was nominated by Sainath Nagarajan 

Thomas Ekman is the Director of Maintenance, Operations & Grounds at Fremont Unified School District. He is responsive, caring, and dedicated to ensuring that Fremont students have well-maintained spaces to learn. In his role, Thomas supported the creation of a space at American High School that honors the Ohlone people and their heritage.

Nathan Ganeshan was nominated by Loreto Dimaandal

Nathan Ganeshan is the Founder of Community Seva. Over the past decade, he, his family, and Community Seva volunteers have tirelessly served unhoused members of our community. Nathan’s work has brought crucial resources as well as comfort, joy, hope, and dignity to those who need it most.

Michael Homez was nominated by Augustine Lerma

Michael Gomez is a United States Army Veteran who served in Vietnam and now assists other veterans through his work at American Legion Post 837. His efforts include community outreach, leadership training, recruiting, and mentoring. Michael provides military honors to departed veterans within Santa Clara County as co-captain of the honor guard.

Sim Gopalan was nominated by Loreto Dimaandal 

Sim Gopalan works to help people experiencing homelessness and poverty as an active volunteer with LoretoQD’s Brigade - Silicon Valley, Hope for the Unhoused, and Community Seva. He has also worked to organize blood drives and bone marrow registration drives in support of the American Red Cross’s lifesaving work.

Niranjan Gupta was nominated by Joseph Lowry 

Niranjan Gupta was a youth soccer coach and an invaluable leader for the Milpitas Police Activities League and the Milpitas Youth Soccer League for over three decades. During that time, he taught thousands of young people in Milpitas teamwork, sportsmanship, and the fundamentals of soccer while encouraging their personal growth.

Syeda Reshma Inamdar was nominated by Deepka Lalwani 

Syeda Reshma Inamdar is an active volunteer for the League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark, and Union City, Abode Services, the Niles Rotary, and the Tri-City Interfaith Council. Her work fosters civic engagement, and her leadership in our community has helped address social issues such as domestic violence and homelessness.

Shailaja Mahavadi was nominated by Zakia Afrin 

Shailaja Mahavadi has been the helpline advocate for Maitri since 2014. Her culturally responsive crisis intervention methods and multilingual advocacy provide victims and survivors with crucial resources. Shailaja is also active in the Hindu American community spaces, where she raises awareness of domestic violence through regular presentations. 

Ritu Maheshwari was nominated by Rakhi Sharma 

Ritu Maheshwari is the Vice President of Media and Publicity for the Federation of Indo-Americans, Northern California. In her role, she helps organize the Festival of Globe India Day Parade, celebrations of Diwali and Holi, and events at the Fremont Hindu Temple for Indian American families in our community to celebrate their cultures and traditions.

Dr. Anurag Mairal was nominated by Ajay Bhutoria 

Dr. Anurag Mairal is the President of Sewa International Bay Area chapter. Under his leadership, Sewa has spearheaded initiatives that address critical community needs, including planning disaster response efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, distributing free meals in our community, providing health resources, and organizing educational programs.

Piyush Malik was nominated by Rakesh Guliana 

Piyush Malik is the founder of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI), where he works to build the next generation of scientists and engineers through mentorships, corporate partnerships, and skills upgrading programs. Piyush has served as the national chairman of ASEI for the past three years.

Lynn Miller was nominated by Nathiya Prathnadi and Carol Drake 

Lynn Miller is the founder of Urban Forest Friends, an organization that advocates for increasing tree canopy in the Tri-Cities. Through Lynn’s leadership, Urban Forest Friends has planted almost 500 trees in cities, parks, neighborhoods, and schools. She also supports community education efforts about the benefits of a robust urban tree canopy.

Milpitas Xtreme Robotics was nominated by Keng Ng 

Milpitas Xtreme Robotics is a student-led robotics club at Milpitas High School that provides Milpitas students opportunities to discover and nurture a passion for STEM and robotics. The club provides free coding and robotics programs, opportunities to enter top robotics competitions, and a guest speaker series program.

Elaine Owyang was nominated by Lorna Jaynes 

Elaine Owyang is a volunteer at the LEAF Center and LEAF Urban Garden, which focus on environmental education, regenerative agriculture, organic farming, and community building. Elaine was instrumental in creating community gardens at the Niles Nursery site and the urban garden at the corner of Mission Blvd. and Mowry Ave.

Kaila Schwartz was nominated by Cheryl Jordan 

Kaila Schwartz is a theater and English teacher at Milpitas High School. For the past four years, she has earned a seat at the international thespians competition in Edinburgh, Scotland. Under her guidance, students develop and produce theatrical performances twice yearly for the Milpitas community to enjoy. 

Fran Stone was nominated by Angus Cochran 

Fran Stone has been an active volunteer for the Washington Hospital Service League for the past 45 years. Over the years, Fran has contributed 14,000 hours of volunteer service to the hospital. She was instrumental in founding the Hospital gift shop and starting the Top Hat Gala, which have raised millions of dollars for Washington Hospital. 

Emerson Su was nominated by Jinky Peralta 

Emerson Su is a dedicated volunteer for Sleeping Bags for the Homeless of Silicon Valley. She helps distribute sleeping bags, tents, food, and other necessary items for unhoused members of our community. Emerson has helped organize supply drives, which have collected thousands of essential items for people in need.

Helena and Matthew Sylvester were nominated by Diana Rohini La Vigne 

Helena and Matthew Sylvester operate a farm and offer a Community Supported Agriculture program for our community. They have helped revive the Sunol Glen School garden and lead a program on Garden Day that teaches youth how to plant, grow, and harvest vegetables. Helena and Matthew have also provided assistance to Sunol residents during recent severe weather events.

Prakash Thapa was nominated by Meena Basnet 

Prakash Thapa is the founder of Action for Nations, a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering young people through martial arts, meditation, and self-defense training. In his work with Action for Nations, Prakash also helps provide shelter, food, and medical care to street dogs.

Veronica Torres was nominated by Lydia Arroyo 

Veronica Torres works to empower Latina women in the Newark community. She has hosted seminars, leadership training courses, and support groups focusing on tech literacy, mental health, and women's empowerment. Veronica also works to improve the health of underserved neighborhoods through her efforts with the Health Education Council.