On Friday evening, Jan. 20 the Ceres Chamber of Commerce will be honoring a number of individuals and companies as part of its annual banquet. But who gets those honors will largely depend on the vote of Chamber members online.
Voting for Chamber members is occurring at cereschamberofcommerce.org through Dec. 31.
The Chamber will announce those winners on during the 54th annual Community Service Awards & Installation Dinner at the Ceres Community Center.
Since 1969, the Ceres Chamber of Commerce has recognized outstanding members of our community who have made extraordinary contributions in community service. This year the Chamber will celebrate 54 years of individuals, businesses and/or groups who volunteer their time to our community or contribute to the Ceres community in other ways.
Members will not be voting on who is named “Citizen of the Year: Lifetime Achievement Award” since that choice is made by past recipients.
The Chamber website includes a synopsis of each nominee for various categories of awards as follows:
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD NOMINEES
Rocky Fisher (posthumously) is best described by the words written in the Ceres Courier following his death. Most of Rocky’s community service was channeled through the Ceres Lions Club, where he served in numerous offices and was once named “Lion of the Year,” but his effort to help others was much broader. Rocky had been a principal organizer and worker at many Ceres Lions fundraising events, including the Lions Omelet Breakfast in Ceres and Crab Feed. His barbecue skills were put to good use to help raise funds for Ceres schools, Soroptimists, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the American Cancer Society. He also worked for the Stanislaus County Fair parking lot fundraising effort and maintenance at Camp Pacifica, a camp for hearing impaired children. He also served as president, vice president and tail twister of the Ceres Lions Club. Rocky regularly volunteered to man the Arrowhead Club booth at the Stanislaus County Fair, cooked for the Ceres Relay for Life Breakfast and helped with construction projects at Ceres parks and both the Daniel Whitmore Home and Clinton Whitmore Mansion. He also coached Ceres Youth Baseball and delivered food and staples to the needy through the Salvation Army. He also helped maintain the Howard Stevenson Grove at the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park and served on the Ceres Street Faire Committee and Whitmore Mansion Committee.
• Sherill Petersen owns and operates Sam’s Cafe in Ceres and personally she is one of the most generous people that you can ever come across. She supports Ceres Police and Fire and their several fundraisers. The Ceres SWAT Association dinner, The Special Olympics, The Deputy Dennis Wallace Memorial Golf Tournament, The Stanislaus County Police Activities League Golf Tournament and every other event and organization that asks for her help.,In spite of Sam’s Cafe being a past recipient of the Small Business of the Year award, Sherrill deserves individual recognition for her unwavering support and generosity to just about every organization that asks for her support and donations.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
• Gary Condit joined the Love Ceres committee this year. He spent numerous hours promoting the event on social media, in the community and in person. Love Ceres is a citywide event where community members sign up for projects around town to help make Ceres a better place to live. It was Gary who helped to promote Love Ceres around town and let community members know that Love Ceres was back and scheduled in April 2022. His knowledge in media productions made this volunteer event a huge success. His love for Ceres was measured by the many hours of work he put into this event and we appreciate all of his expertise. Condit spent hours before the event taking photos and updating social media pages. On the day of the event, he continued to drive from project to project to take pictures and after the event was over, he provided a wonderful tribute of pictures to share. As a volunteer, he really made a difference.
• Kim Johnson personifies the meaning of volunteer. For more than two decades, Kim has led the effort for co-managing the organization of the Ceres Street Faire, with specific oversight of the vendors during the annual Ceres Street Faire. The amazing thing about this, is that although she is no longer a Ceres resident and now resides over 90 minutes away, she has maintained her commitment to Ceres for this community event. Kim is one of several members of the Ceres Street Faire Committee, which is comprised of a partnership between the Ceres Lions Club and the Ceres Chamber of Commerce. Each year, Kim leads the effort of organizing the marketing, application submissions and vendor set-up during the event, which is no small feat. She works to ensure all vendors are in compliance with the city and, for food vendors, the county health department - also no small feat. Kim, with the aid of her husband, Dave, travel to Ceres for monthly and weekly meetings leading up to the event, and then reside here for the week of the event to make sure all is organized to run successfully. Kim is a small business owner in her own community, but sets time aside every year for the Ceres community.
• Daniel Martinez is a Lions Club member. He’s raised money and gathered sponsorships for teams in Ceres Youth Baseball and volunteered for various activities raising money for Ceres schools. He attends and helps with raising money for Ceres Pups Wrestling team. He’s a beacon for a new generation of volunteers to follow his lead and just step up to the task of making the city better. Youth sports and other nonprofit events benefit from leadership like Daniel’s to just making the effort to support in any way. This young man is so involved in his community. The way he tries to give back to his community and try to create a legacy for his own children is nice to see. He is always the one to step up and volunteer his self for a task without hesitation. Seeing him coach his son, help set up at the Street Fair, attend ribbon cuttings for new business in Ceres, he is always around to lend a hand.
YOUNG CITIZEN OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
• Samantha Cunningham is currently a member of the HS National Honor Society, a school and community service based organization. Within this club, the students have set up peer tutoring for the high school and middle school students at Whitmore Charter. Samantha can be seen tutoring individual students most days, during her lunch time, prep periods, or after school. She is very sought after because of her knowledge, kindness and patient way of teaching! Samantha also lends a hand during her weekends helping her family’s church by giving of her time and talents in community service. Samantha is always willing to lend a hand in any situation. She often helps out with clubs she is not even a member of, is first to offer up help in any way. Samantha always has a smile on her face with helping and is the true embodiment of a community server.
• Kimberly Ochoa was instrumental in the naming of the park in honor of Guillermo Ochoa. Her efforts to promote community service cannot be ignored. Kimberly Ochoa is a young person who has, in the spirit of her family, given back to the community by volunteer service all while completing her studies and completing medical school. Kimberly has been an advocate for Latino youth and has become a role model in our community. She really has a heart for others, just like her parents. Her advocacy and community awareness to have the park named after her father is one example of her efforts. She is really remarkable and will bring praise and success to Ceres in its future.
• Delia Vidal created a new event last year to host a holiday party for all CUSD elementary special education students. She is running the second annual holiday party this year on Dec. 17. This is just one of the many service projects she is involved in. Delia deserves this award for her compassion, initiative, and follow through. She has accumulated over 400 service hours while at Central Valley High School. She truly has a heart for others and is willing to help anyone who needs it. What makes Delia stand out from other kind students is her leadership ability and intuitive to make things happen. Delia is a one-of-a-kind student and someone who I would be proud to have represent Ceres.
SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR NOMINEES
• California Landscape Supply donates to the Lions Club, FFA clubs around the area and lets kids borrow supplies during the fair. They also consult and help renovate different sports fields in the area. California Landscape Supply recently went and renovated Modesto Christian’s baseball field in their annual Field Day event on Dec. 1. California Landscape was able to get most of the materials needed donated from the many companies they work with – from sprinkler fixes, over seeding, sod, built up mounds, paint, grass cutters and fixed the overall field. Not only did they work hard to fix the field but also gave the kids an opportunity to have a great field to play on and be proud of.
• Ceres Karate/Duran Family Fitness has been serving the Ceres Community for over 30 years. They have given a place for countless number of young people to learn self-defense, karate, krav Maga as well as promoting academics, self-awareness and self-esteem. They have maintained their outstanding business model over the years and continue to serve the community. The Duran family has never stopped dedicating their time and efforts to our community and our youth. They offer robust educational classes for adults and children and work diligently to give young people a sense of identity and to make sure they have strong values. They are a constant in the Ceres community and have supported the community through the most difficult of seasons. They are a small business who cares about people and gives back to the community every day.
• Footnotes Dance Studio always gets involved with the community by performing at the Ceres Street Faire, the opening of Christmas Tree Lane and several other events in our community. Footnotes and the owners Mike and Lindsay Curry have been in the community for over 20 years at three locations. The Footnotes family is like no other; they promote teamwork, confidence and self-esteem like no other business. The studio is helping to create wonderful children that become amazing adults and leaders in our community and region. There is no small business that is more deserving of this award in Ceres.
• The Floral Cottage owner Denise Boyd is always sporting local groups and schools when they ask for donations. She always comes forward to assist veterans groups. Denise always goes above and beyond when it comes to helping her community and her customers. She has been a staple in the community with her business for 23 years.
• Vic’s Churros has participated in multiple city events and local school events. At each school event, a portion of the proceeds are returned to the school/PTA organization. They’ve also been a huge contributor to Concerts in the Park, National Night Out, and the Christmas festivities during the opening of Christmas Tree Lane. The business provides an excellent learning experience for local students in Ceres. The owner takes pride in his products and enjoys giving back to the schools and organizations that helped raise him.
LARGE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR NOMINATEES
• Bronco Wine Company. Since its inception in the late 1800s, the Franzia family and Bronco Wine Company have been committed to growing, producing and selling the finest quality wines of the highest value to customers. Bronco Wine Company’s diverse family of grands is sold in over 90 countries worldwide in addition to being distributed throughout the U.S. Bronco Wine Company has become a major vintage varietal wine source to the California wine industry and is currently recognized as the fifth largest winery and the largest vineyard owner in the United States.
• Walmart Supercenter. In 2011 the Ceres Walmart was given the go ahead to build its super store in Ceres at Service and Mitchell Roads, four years after it was originally proposed. That effort was soon stalled in a lawsuit that prevented Walmart from moving forward until 2018. From the time it was proposed in 2007 until the lawsuit was finally dropped, Walmart fought to stay in Ceres. As a result, the Walmart Supercenter opened its doors in 2021 providing hundreds of jobs for area residents. The company could have kept their smaller store or close altogether, but they chose to stay and provide Ceres with goods and jobs.
LEGACY AWARD NOMINEES
• IC Refrigation. Once known solely for its refrigeration services, the Ceres based IC Refrigeration, is now known simply as “IC.” Imfeld Cloutier Refrigeration Service opened its doors in 1940 and since has grown into one of Ceres’ larger businesses with today over 70 employees. IC is highly recognized for the work they do installing kitchens for McDonalds, Wendy’s, Dominos and Panda Express restaurants throughout Central and Northern California. What many people don’t know is that for the last 16 years IC has been volunteering to help Ronald McDonald Charities, which focuses on disabled kids through its Camp Ronald McDonald Eagle Lake. Each year, IC sends a team to help open the facility in preparation for the summer season. However, this year, they also saw an opportunity to help the house in Sacramento with their toy drive. Family members of several employees have been blessed by this organization in time of medical crisis. They have seen first-hand what kind of impact Ronald McDonald Charities has had, so its extra special for them to be involved and it also gives IC employees a tangible way to help during the Christmas season.
• La Morenita Restaurant has just celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing amazing food to Ceres. Lupe Cordoba and her family are one of the greatest supporters of the community and continually donate and support all kinds of different organizations in Ceres.