Gavilan gives community awards

Charles Weston

Architect and community advocate Charles Weston, the Interfaith Clergy Alliance and Mama Mia’s were named as recipients of Gavilan College’s 2017 Community Spirit Awards, which are handed out annually to honor the people and institutions that contribute to improving the local quality of life.
Each year, Gavilan bestows the Community Spirit honors upon an individual, an organization and a business in each of the communities it serves: Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Hollister.
The Morgan Hill recipients will receive their awards at the Oct. 5 Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce Breakfast at Mama Mia’s Restaurant (275 E. Dunne Ave.). The event starts at 7:30 a.m.
Weston brings runs to MH community
Weston started the long-running Freedom Fest Fun Run and, in 2015, the race was listed in the PA/USTFA grand prix circuit which consists of some of the fastest runners in Northern California. The first year 100 runners signed up for the day and, in 2015, a record 864 runners participated in the race. The funds raised at the race, including $35,000 in 2015, go directly to the Freedom Fest day of celebration. The Morgan Hill Freedom Fest is a nonprofit organization.
In 2015, Weston teamed up with fellow military veteran Paul Rakitin to bring the inaugural 5K Veterans Day Run to Morgan Hill. The purpose of this event is to help bring awareness to groups and organizations in the area that offer support for those who have served their country.
Mama Mia’s provides venue for special events
Mama Mia’s, owned by Majid Bahriny, regularly donates to local causes and serves as a gathering place, hosting numerous community meetings and events. This fall, they were also the venue for a new Gavilan College noncredit class in Hospitality and Tourism.
In Gilroy, Spirit winners were Gary Walton (individual), Dreampower Horsemanship (organization) and Young Signs (business). In Hollister, recipients were Refugio Sanchez (individual), San Benito County Agriculture in the Classroom (organization) and Flapjacks (business).
Interfaith Community offers host of programs
Inspired by the interfaith service led by 16 local clergy, held on Martin Luther King Day 2016, a group of enthusiastic individuals launched the Interfaith Community of South County. This interfaith group is committed to creating compassionate communities through social, service and educational programs. The group has sponsored a series of educational programs entitled “The Faith of Our Neighbors.” They organized an Interfaith Community Walk for Peace and Prayer Vigil in August, and have piloted South County’s first “Safe Parking” program for homeless families.