Spirit Awards given in Southern California

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Annual civic dinner held in Orange County.

by Barry Frost –

The Salvation Army Orange County Advisory Board recently held its annual “Spirit Awards” civic dinner, with 330 attendees in the East Room of The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace, hosted by Ed Arnold, managing editor and news co-anchor of KOCE TV’s “Real Orange.”

Each year four “Spirit Awards” are given to leading citizens or organizations who have contributed in an extraordinary manner of their time, talent and/or financial resources.
The “Others” Award exemplifies service to others benefiting The Salvation Army and the community. Mark Chapin Johnson, president and chief executive officer of Chapin Medical Company in Anaheim, Calif., arrived at the Army’s Orange County headquarters days after the tragic 2005 hurricanes in the gulf states to provide a significant and generous donation in support of the Army’s restoration work there. He is also known for generosity to other organizations, including the Orange County Performing Arts Center and Forest Home Christian Conference Center.

The “William Booth” Award is given to an individual in recognition of outstanding community and humanitarian service. Recipient David Melilli has served on the Advisory Board since 1997 and is also on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Chorale, Orange County Pacific Symphony and “Operation Blessing” (an international disaster relief organization). He has been very instrumental in the negotiation process for the Army to receive several properties for additional transitional housing in Orange County.

The “Volunteer of the Year” Award is given to an individual who has displayed exceptional volunteer service to enhance and improve the community. Alan Gersten, Senior Lead Teacher for “The Academies” at Century High School in Santa Ana, accepted the award on behalf of his students for their volunteer efforts over the past seven years at the Christmas distribution headquarters. Over 50 students spent two eight-hour days each year during their Christmas break to assist with packing food, gifts and toys for the needy.

The “Spirit of the Army” Award is given for significant contributions to the Army’s programs and services. Recipient Calvin Leung founded Global Evangelical Mission Society (GEMS) in 1992 in response to the unprecedented opportunity to bring the gospel to the Russian people after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

Also featured were the “Heroes of the Faith” Awards, given to individuals who were at one time involved in Army programs and are now working to make a difference. Recipients included: Hans Dawood and family, a graduate of the transitional housing program and the Anaheim Adult Rehabilitation Center; Anthony “Tony” Simon, now the director of the Santa Ana Youth Center, after going through the center’s program as a child, and founder and senior pastor of the New Covenant Church of Orange County; Jennifer Smith, a graduate of the Women’s Anaheim ARC and now employee of the Santa Ana thrift store, a soldier and applicant for admission to the College for Officer Training.

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