2019 Annual Meeting & Society of Fellows Recognition Reception at First American Corporation

December 25, 2019 | Blog, Events

Thursday, December 12, 2019
Annual Meeting & Society of Fellows Recognition Reception

Master of Ceremonies the Honorable David O. Carter welcomed guests and introduced 2019 Project Youth OCBF President Steve Card. Steve discussed the 2019 launch of our Elevate Educate Empower Comprehensive Campaign–a three-year effort to raise $5 million in new funds and $9 million total with all of our annual funds included. He remarked how fortunate Project Youth OCBF is to have many dedicated volunteers and supporters to help us–most notably our campaign committee chairs, Jim & Linda Skorheim, Patrick & the Honorable Judith Ryan (Ret.), Allan & Cindy Stokke, and Honorary Chairs Ygal & Justice Sheila Prell Sonenshine (Ret.), all tremendously loyal and dedicated couples. 

The event continued with Judge Carter and Steve presenting several awards, beginning with the inaugural Project Youth OCBF Volunteer Excellence Award honoring Ygal & Sheila Sonenshine, who were thanked for their belief in our mission and for their loyal and continual leadership and support. 

Next on the program was the 26th Annual Sammy Award – Project Youth OCBF’s “Sammy” award, which is given each year to a recipient who has contributed to Project Youth in order to assist in best serving the youth and families of Orange County. The “Sammy” is dedicated in loving memory of Robert Samuel Barnes, who was a Project Youth OCBF longtime supporter and friend that contributed greatly to the organization. This year’s “Sammy” award recipient, Eric V. Traut, joins a distinguished group of past recipients including: our very first recipient, Robert Samuel Barnes, Don Morrow, Judy Ryan, Ann Andres, John Herklotz, Jane Martin, Ygal and Sheila Sonenshine, Mike Pursell, Bill O’Hare, Michael Maguire, Cindy Stokke, Jim Skorheim, the Santa Ana Police Department, John Hurlbut, Mark Minyard, Carolyn McKitterick, Dennis Ghan, Kyle Kawakami, and last year’s recipient, Bill Grenner. Eric is a longtime supporter and past president of Project Youth, and current member of the Project Youth OCBF Board of Directors. He has diligently supported Project Youth as a volunteer and friend. Each year, he provides a Higher Education Mentoring Program student with a college scholarship, employees a Project SELF intern at his firm, and is always one of, if not the top, fundraiser of Project Youth OCBF’s OC Marathon effort. Eric was presented with the “Sammy” on behalf of Project Youth OCBF, to be congratulated by all on receiving this well-deserved, prestigious honor. 

Next, the Outstanding Community Leadership Award was presented to Maria Solis Martinez. Maria has been a long-term supporter or the Higher Education Mentoring Program. She began by providing a college dorm kit to one of our graduates back in 2002. Each year she provides up to three college scholarships to Santa Ana high school students in our Higher Education Mentoring Program who have the desire to pursue higher education. We are extremely grateful Maria has chosen our Higher Education Mentoring Program to provide her generous college scholarships and we were very excited to honor her. 

Three program participants spoke about their experience with Project Youth OCBF, beginning with Claudia Santamaria, who participated in the Higher Education Mentoring Program in 2008. She attended Saddleback High School, graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor’s degree, and pursued higher education in England. She has returned to Orange County as an educated professional giving back to her community. She now mentors students in our Higher Education Mentoring Program. Claudia spoke on how the program helped guide her and her family through the college experience and how invaluable the college support was to her success.

Following Claudia was Jo D. Kelly, a grateful grandparent who brought her grandson to STOP SHORT of Addiction and credits the program with helping her grandson change his mindset and get on a positive path. She talked about her grandson using drugs and heading down the wrong path. She is extremely grateful for the help they received to turn things around. Her grandson, Anthony Kelly, concluded by adding how grateful he was for the support he received in STOP SHORT of Addiction, which helped him strengthen his relationship with his grandmother and stop his substance use. 

2019 Project Youth OCBF Associate Board President Kelly Galligan presented on the efforts of the Associate Board to raise funds and offer support services to Project Youth OCBF programs. Mark Erickson, the incoming President for 2020, talked about 2020 being the year Project Youth OCBF celebrates 50 years of service in the Orange County Community. Mark very eloquently inspired all with his vision for Project Youth OCBF and his recap of the impact we have had for 50 years.  Anthony Moderelli, the incoming Associate Board President for 2020, expressed his excitement to work with Mark to continue the good work Project Youth OCBF is doing and continue to work towards a successful comprehensive campaign. 

The evening concluded with Judge Carter installing the Board and Associate Board officers and new members.

Click here to view photos on our Annual Meeting page.
Click here to learn about the Society of Fellows 2019 award recipients who were also recognized.