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Menlo Park Chamber names Golden Acorn Award winners

Winners include veteran firefighter and a teen who helps underserved kids

A teenager who works to get underserved kids engaged in sports programs. A veteran firefighter who has been involved in major disaster relief efforts. A city staff member who has been instrumental in developing land-use plans that will shape the future of the city.

They are among six winners of the 2017 Golden Acorn Awards, recently announced by the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, which gives the awards to people and organizations for community service and professional excellence.

The awards will be presented at a gala reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park. Celebrated Stanford women's basketball coach and Menlo Park resident Tara VanDerveer will give the keynote address.

Registration for the reception starts at 4:30 p.m. The keynote address is at 5:15 p.m., followed by the awards program.

Tickets are $125 and can be purchased from the Chamber of Commerce.

Register for the event here.

The chamber event is also sponsored by Hunter Properties and the city of Menlo Park. The Stanford Park Hotel is at 100 El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

The winners

This year's winners, according to chamber president Fran Dehn, are:

The Rotary Club of Menlo Park, which gives more than $100,000 a year in college scholarships to local high school students, conducts the annual Tour de Menlo bike ride that raises money for scholarships and local nonprofits, and makes grants to organizations that support youth education and health.

Rebuilding Together Peninsula, which mobilizes thousands of volunteers to help low-income homeowners with home repairs, renovations and energy-efficient upgrades.

Juanita Croft, a founding member and leader of the Belle Haven Community Development Fund, which oversees a mini-grant program, funded by the city, that supports neighborhood beautification and community building projects.

Shay Patel, a teenager who founded Alley-Oop Kids, which works with schools and nonprofit organizations to provide underserved kids opportunities to play and develop in sports. He has raised $6,000 for a basketball program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula and solicited contributions of tickets to sporting events for foster kids in the county. This summer, he ran a free basketball camp for 60 kids in the Ravenswood City School District.

Rex Ianson, who has devoted 48 years of service to the Menlo Park Fire Protection District as a firefighter and member of the district Board of Directors. He was a founding member of the district's National Urban Search and Rescue Task Force in 1990 and still trains other firefighters and rescue teams. He was deployed on many rescue and recovery missions, including the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 World Trade Center collapse and Hurricane Katrina.

Arlinda Heineck, director of community development for the city of Menlo Park, was instrumental in the development of such strategic land-use plans as the El Camino Real/downtown specific plan, an update of the city’s housing element in the general plan, and most recently, an update to the city's general plan.

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