Vasquez, Johnson honored
ATTENDING THE ORANGE County, Calif. Spirit Awards dinner are (l-r) Captain Michele Lescano, Volunteer of the Year Award recipient Terri Freeman, Others Award recipient Rafer Johnson, William Booth Award recipient Gaddi Vasquez and Captain Lee Lescano.
“United We Stand…United We Serve” was the theme for the annual “Spirit Awards” civic dinner presented by The Salvation Army Orange County Advisory Board.
During the evening, the board recognized three individuals for their service to the Army and to others. Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez was presented the William Booth Award for outstanding community and humanitarian service. Doy Henley, in making the presentation, read from a congratulatory letter from President George W. Bush, who commended Vasquez on his years of commitment to the communities of Orange County. “Our country is deeply indebted to the men and women who devote their lives to public service…thank you for devoting your career to serving your fellow Americans.”
Vasquez remarked, “I am grateful to President Bush for his confidence. The Peace Corps is in line and in the spirit of The Salvation Army. The Army is an inspiration to me and to all who want to serve and help other people.”
Rafer Johnson, USA Olympian, was bestowed the Others award by Major George Hood, national public affairs director and official Salvation Army liaison to the White House. Johnson was honored for his extraordinary spirit of service to others, and especially for his work with California Special Olympics since its inception.
Johnson spoke of his childhood memories. “Raised in Kingsburg, Calif., I attended The Salvation Army for four years. We were the only family of color in town. I heard about good choices. I learned to ‘Be the best you can be.’ Being involved with Special Olympics has given me insight to those who saw me through difficult times.”
Terri Freeman was presented the Volunteer of the Year Award by Commissioner Doris Noland, Eastern Territory associate territorial leader.
Commissioner Joe Noland, Eastern territorial leader, gave the keynote address. Chris and Carol Jaudes presented two musical segments.
Captain Michele Lescano, Tustin Ranch corps officer, delivered the invocation. More than 350 attended the event, which was hosted by Warren Johnson.