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Mechanics Bank co-sponsor of the "Celebrating Community" program with the Napa Chamber Foundation honors Napa Emergency Women's Services.

Napa Emergency Women's Services Awarded Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year at 2009 Napa Community Awards Gala

Napa, CA, May 14, 2009 -- Tracy Lamb, executive director of Napa Emergency Women's Services, accepted her organization's award as the Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year at the Napa Community Awards Gala with characteristic grace. "I'm so thankful to all the other nonprofits in the Valley," she said. "We all work together and support one another."

In a year of government funding cuts and donors scrambling in the wake of their own portfolio and job losses, thirteen of Napa Valley's nonprofits were nominated for the annual award, all of them worthy groups. "They all were winners in our opinion," said Coreen Pinney, a vice president and senior relationship manager at Mechanics Bank, the co-sponsor of the "Celebrating Community" program with the Napa Chamber Foundation. "It's hard to choose one over another when you have such exceptional organizations."

Two hundred people attended the awards luncheon Tuesday, May 12, 2009, which took place at the Silverado Resort.

The Napa Valley is full of everyday heroes--whether volunteers or employees (and sometimes the line blurs.) Jennifer Veveiros, a fifth grade home room teacher at Phillips Charter School, was recognized as Napa's Outstanding Teacher of the Year for "believing in every student and making them believe in themselves," according to Barbara Nemko, Superintendent of Schools in Napa. "Jen has every proven teaching technique down to a science--so we have her help the new teachers."

Veveiros, the first generation of her family to graduate from college, says, "My mission is to reach these children and help them achieve their dreams," a goal that goes far beyond teaching rote knowledge.

Then there is Kirsten Raschko, the Napa Valley College Student of the Year, who was introduced by Dr. Chris McCarthy, the college president, as "absolutely memorable. Some students have so much energy, so much commitment, so much willingness to give to others that they are unforgettable students. Kirsten is one of those," he said.

Raschko, who is completing her sophomore year with a 3.7 GPA and is an English major, will transfer to UCLA this fall, where she intends to double-major in English and Theater. At Napa Community, she balanced a 20 hour class schedule with an astonishing list of activities ranging from organizing a canned food drive and collecting over 400 lbs. of food to spearheading dozens of projects, tutoring, acting in school plays, and serving as the student government's Senator of Language and Developmental Studies and vice president of service for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. The lifelong resident of Napa plans to join the Peace Corps after graduating--and then return to Napa to become a teacher.

Other winners included Gary Rose, Community Booster, who credited his success in both business and volunteerism to being "surrounded by wonderful people here in Napa"; Napa Fire Captain Charlie Rhodes, the Public Safety winner whom Fire Chief Tim Borman said went "above and beyond to make things better for citizens in distress"; Hospitality/Tourism winner Patricia Cline, noted as an early pioneer of women tour guides in Napa Valley; Nonprofit Employee of the Year Michelle Williams of the Arts Council Napa Valley, who has managed to pilot her organization through massive funding cuts while supporting nearly 30 old and new arts organizations plus education and open studio programs and numerous arts advocacy projects; and Healthcare Professional Peter M. Haines, CNA, a nurse at adult mental health facility Crestwood Center, who has brought music, reading, arts, and TLC into the daily lives of his patients while providing extraordinary care.

"Day to day, we sometimes lose sight of what it takes to make a place as special as Napa," said Lisa Batto, Executive Director, Napa Chamber of Commerce. "The most wonderful gift of this event is that it gives our community the opportunity to recognize those whose singular acts of caring and giving have enriched all our lives. They really are heroes."

Winners were selected from nominees forwarded from the community, and were evaluated on their commitment to go above and beyond the requirements of a particular profession, or reach outside the boundaries of their own world to meet the needs of others. The nominees for the public safety and teachers were selected separately.

For more information about the Napa Valley Community Awards, contact the Napa Chamber at (707) 226-7455 or go to

About Mechanics Bank:

For more than a century, Mechanics Bank has been committed to helping people build prosperous communities as a trusted financial partner, forging lasting relationships through teamwork, respect and integrity. The $2.7 billion independent bank, headquartered in Richmond, California, offers personal banking, business banking, trust, brokerage and wealth management services through 33 offices across Northern California. For more information, please visit

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