San Diego ARC Celebrates Victories

The San Diego ARC recently brought together some 370 community leaders, volunteers, center alumni, staff and beneficiaries to recognize public service and victory over drugs and alcohol.

Awards were given to a host of volunteers, from physicians, nurses, career counselors, drivers, lawyers, hairdressers and artists to business people, who give of their time and talent to the cause of substance abuse prevention and recovery. Physician Robert Bock, M.D. and dentist Nicholas Gistaro, D.D.S., both known for their long-time service to The Salvation Army, shared the Volunteer of the Year Award. They were presented by ARC Administrator Major Joseph Viola (R).

A special community service award went to Girl Scouts, San Diego-Imperial Council for their outstanding “Be Your Best and Do a Good Turn” project, with Sierra Del Mar Divisional Commander Major Donald Bell doing those honors. It was a joyous and celebratory evening, skillfully guided by the master of ceremonies, NBC-TV’s San Diego news anchor Marty Levin. The Arize Quartet, comprised of four men in recovery who met and began singing together when they were beneficiaries at the center, brought the house down with their spirited musical renditions.

The Honorable Bonnie Dumanis, Judge of the San Diego Municipal Court and co-founder of the innovative Drug Court Program, was the keynote speaker. Major Dan Starrett, ARC commander, lauded the close working relationship between the ARC and the Drug Court, in his introduction of Judge Dumanis. She has a special interest in addressing substance abuse issues within the justice system.

Building partnerships with community groups was a recurrent theme of this event, with recognition of Navy leaders from the Naval School of Health Sciences, for whom the ARC provides civilian practicum sites for Navy interns training to become alcohol and drug abuse counselors. Admiral Veronica Froman, commander of all San Diego Naval Bases, was a special guest.

Patricia Picard spoke movingly about the power of God in her life, and the program at the ARC which enabled her to overcome alcohol addiction, as she accepted the Alumna of the Year Award.

Starrett used the occasion to congratulate the San Diego ARC and Director of Rehabilitation Services Dr. Edward Lataille and staff for winning this year’s Salvation Army National Social Service Award for Program Excellence. Similar congratulations came from representatives of the County Board of Supervisors and Congressional Recognition from Brian Bilbray.

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