Nearly 20 Danville residents and organizations were recognized Tuesday night as part of the Town Council's annual Community Service Awards presentation.
This was the 36th year of the ceremony, which recognizes those who have made a different to the town of Danville, and, for the fourth year, it was held at the Village Theatre and Art Gallery in downtown.
There were several categories of awards, and council members took turns presenting the 17 individual recognitions.
The Danville Award
The Discovery Counseling Center, a local nonprofit, was honored with the evening's most prestigious award for 50 years of providing mental health services to the San Ramon Valley.
Mayor Renee Morgan presented the award to the center's executive director Kathy Chiverton.
"The most difficult struggles are the ones that we fight by ourselves," Morgan said, But it is nice to know Discovery Counseling Center is there when we lose our way.
Award of Special Recognition
Art Gaskins, for his dedication and extensive service to the local veterans community, including serving as a docent at the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Danville. A veteran of World War II and Korea, Gaskins is set to turn 100 years old early next year.
Awards of Merit
* Jim Donnelly, who serves on various town and county committees, was recognized for his hours of dedication and volunteering for the Danville Senior Center.
* Katie Wong and Lauren Edelman, two seniors at Monte Vista High School, were honored together for dedicating time and energy in multiple leadership positions in the community and at school.
* Avery Chapman, a junior at San Ramon Valley High and singer extraordinaire, received an award for her willingness to perform at a wide range of community events.
* Green Beret Col. Al Kalin, a decorated veteran with 30 years of service, was awarded for his campaign to improve safety for cyclists and motorists on Mount Diablo -- Councilman Robert Storer attributed Kalin's campaign with reducing bike accidents on the mountain from 20-25 accidents per year, to zero in 2017.
Michael K. Shimansky Community Service Award
Brady Martin, a junior at Monte Vista High, was the recipient of the youth award presented annually in honor of Shimansky, who died in 2009 during his tenure on the council.
Martin was recognized for his volunteer efforts in support of Special Olympics and his fundraising efforts in support of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Tuesday also happened to be his birthday -- so the audience at the VTAG sang to him.
Volunteers of the Year
Parks Volunteer of the Year: The council recognized the nonprofit Toolworks for volunteering over 1,000 hours from January 2015 to June 2017 to help keep Danville play areas and parks safe and clean.
Toolworks is an agency that connects people with disabilities to volunteer and employment opportunities in their communities.
Arts Commission Volunteer of the Year: Victoria Brooks was honored for her lifelong service to the Danville arts community, particularly as a Danville Arts Commissioner and board member of the Role Players Ensemble Theatre.
Brooks was also recognized later in the program as an outgoing commissioner and then later for her eight years of service on the Arts Commission.
Town Service Volunteer of the Year: Jessica Stemmler was named the Town Service Volunteer of the Year for her consistently positive spirit and willingness to help out around town whenever needed.
Stemmler has helped coordinate and support local youth events, Santa's Mailbox and is now the town's 2017-18 philanthropy liaison.
Police Volunteer of the Year: Burt Feldstein was honored for completing more than 800 volunteer hours for the Danville Police Department.
Feldstein's work in crime prevention efforts has included participating in the silent sentry program, volunteer patrol program and the vacation house check program.
The council also recognized residents for reaching milestone anniversaries of service on town commissions, boards and councils.
Susan Ritner's tenure was longest, with 16 years on the Arts Commission.
Following Ritner's length, Jane Joyce and Stewart Proctor were both honored for 12 years of service, both on the Parks and Leisure Services Commission.
Brooks, who was honored earlier in the program, had eight years on the Arts Commission and Councilwoman Lisa Blackwell was recognized for her four years on the Parks and Leisure Services Commission.
Before the awards ceremony began, the Monte Vista Chamber Singers performed Christmas tunes, and later sang the Star-Spangled Banner.
Cub Scout Pack 809 from John Baldwin Elementary posted the colors and led the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
And Jeremiah Ramer, the minister of outreach at Danville's Community Presbyterian Church, led the invocation.
A video-recording of the ceremony is set to run on Contra Costa Television (community access TV channel 26 on Comcast and channel 99 on AT&T/U-Verse) several times throughout the month, starting on Dec. 15. For program times, visit the CCTV website.