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Jefferson Awards Celebrate 7 Years Of Recognizing Bay Area Service

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - The end of 2011 marks seven years of broadcasting the stories of the Bay Area Jefferson Award winners. A profile of a winner is posted each week on and is aired on CBS 5 and KCBS. At the end of each year, CBS 5 hosts a celebration in San Francisco where they receive bronze medals.

Five of the winners are then selected as "silver medalists." Their names are sent on to the national Jefferson Awards organization for consideration of a national award. And each year, one of those silver medalists is invited to Washington, DC to attend an evening gala with regional winners from around the country.

Watch CBS 5's Special Report On The Jefferson Awards

In 2006, that winner was Arlene Hylton, honored for her commitment to assisting former foster youth in establishing themselves with new homes through the San Francisco Independent Living Skills Program.

The following year, the national organization invited winner Ruth Brinker, who founded Project Open Hand to serve meals to patients homebound by AIDS or other illnesses.

When Bay Area winner Heidi Kuhn was invited to Washington in 2008, she was surprised there with another win: a national Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Service to the Local Community. Kuhn started Roots of Peace, an organization dedicated to removing land mines in war-torn countries and replacing them with viable crops.

The founder of the Bay Area Gardeners Foundation, Catalino Tapia, was next to be honored by both the invitation to Washington and an Onassis Award, in 2009. The BAGF raises money to fund scholarships for standout high school students who may not otherwise be able to afford college.

Another Onassis Award went to a Bay Area winner in 2010: Gary Maxworthy of the San Francisco Food Bank. Maxworthy's innovative Farm to Family program moves donated produce from California farms to food banks and pantries around the state, providing those in need with fresh, healthy food.

And Oakland's Cloteal Davis brought home an Onassis Award earlier this year. Davis helped create the West Oakland Health Center, a critical resource where Oakland families can get medical care close to home.

Each of these outstanding individuals was recognized because someone took the time to send in a nomination. All the nominations are considered by a local steering committee, made up of representatives from non-profits around the Bay Area. They meet about every six weeks to read and discuss the extraordinary accounts of people dedicated to helping others.

Submitting a nomination is easy. Use this link to find the online form. Or if you prefer, we can mail you a form. Call 415-765-8876 to request one.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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