Curtis Grant, a retired professor of U.S. history at California State University, Stanislaus, and longtime civic leader, will be honored with a lifetime-achievement award at the 19th annual Christian Public Servants awards breakfast Thursday at Big Valley Grace Community Church.
Grant is the third person to win the occasional award; the other two were Peter Johansen and the late Harry Kullijian.
CPS awards are given to people whose faith sparks their work ethic and community involvement. A new category this year, the Street Saints award, will go to Dillon Bartell and Kristian Valdovinos. The award goes to a person between the ages of 12 and 20 "who demonstrates the attributes of the Good Samaritan, (including) selfless contributions toward others or assistance to individuals in need," a news release said.
This year's other winners and the award categories are:
Modesto Police Department officer Billy Boyle, Chief Gerald McKinsey Excellence in Law Enforcement award
Battalion Chief John Barton of the Modesto Regional Fire Authority, 911 Public Safety Award
Jeff Pishney, founder of Love Modesto, Walter C. "Bud" LaCore Citizenship Award
John Hollis Scholastic Scholarship recipients Mark Addis, Downey High School; Josue Jimenez, Modesto Junior College; Shelby Reed, Hughson High School; Philip Goodwin, Johansen High School; Karl Fuentes, CSUS; and Makiyah Ruggieri-Vesey, Downey.
Vicki Mulvaney-Trask, a former county and state teacher of the year who works with high-risk students for the Stanislaus County Office of Education, will be the keynote speaker.
Grant, a Downey High and Modesto Junior College graduate, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees and a doctorate from Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. He has been involved with the Modesto Rotary Club, Youth for Christ, Boys and Girls Clubs and various medical, church and educational groups. He won the CPS citizenship award in 1998.
Pishney, a pastor with Big Valley Grace Community Church, parlayed a small-group outreach to feed the homeless into a twice-a-year service project, which last month reached 40 cities from Oakland to Madera with more than 4,000 volunteers. He is the director of development for City Ministry Network, a monthly gathering of faith-based nonprofit groups.
Wide range of experience
Barton oversees the regional fire authority's reserve firefighter program. He began his career in 1984 with Salida Fire "and has faithfully served in all positions, from firefighter to now being a well-respected chief officer," said Fire Chief Gary Hinshaw. "His dedication over the past 28 years has been exceptional." Barton is active in his church and community.
Boyle "recognizes the awesome responsibility of his profession and (protects) those who cannot protect themselves, and by just being there when one of our citizens is facing the very worst situation that life can throw at them," said Modesto Police Department Sgt. Brian Findlen. Boyle helped start a local "10-11 Network," which supports law enforcement and public safety employees and helps those who want to know more about Christianity.
Bartell attends church and a college group and serves on a worship team. He is one of six college students who has adopted the low-income transients who live in the Modesto Inn. "In fact," said his pastor, Matt Whiteford, "just yesterday, Dillon convinced me to take him to the hospital to see a man he had met once who had been beaten up and was in intensive care. We went, and in the process, we met another family who was in crisis and Dillon prayed and cared for them."
Valdovinos, a graduate of the Elliott Alternative Education Center, took on a father-figure role for his younger siblings after his parents' divorce. He supported his mother and grandparents emotionally and financially, until he had a breakdown and turned to gangs and other negative influences. But he got involved with the Victory Life Center, where his faith was renewed. He recently earned a certificate as a physical-fitness trainer and uses his experiences and mixed martial arts to encourage children and youth to stay away from drugs and gangs. "He is making a big difference in his community," said his mentor, Jorge Perez.
The $750 scholarship awards, announced in April, are given to high school seniors or college students who are active in their church and community and plan to have a career in public service.
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2012.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Christian Public Servants breakfast
WHEN: 7-8:30 a.m. Thursday
WHERE: Big Valley Grace Community Church, 4040 Tully Road, Modesto
TICKETS: $20 each at the door
CONTACT: John Evans at (209) 988-5597