News Release No. 2 - November 18, 2008

For Immediate Release: November 18, 2008


Michelle Jeffers (415) 557-4282

Linda Brooks-Burton (415) 355-2851

Thirteen Local Heroes to be Honored at 20th Anniversary Celebration

A volunteer who arranges birthday parties for homeless children, musicians who use their talent to call attention to local, national and international issues, and an historian who brings poetry to his community are among this year's Unsung Hero Award winners. Marking two decades of recognizing those who selflessly give their time and energy to improve the lives of others in the African American community, 13 Bay Area residents will be honored at the Unsung Hero Awards ceremony on Nov. 23. Honorees were nominated by the public and selected by committees comprised of San Francisco Public Library staff and community members.

This year celebrates the 20th anniversary of the awards which began at the Western Addition Branch Library. The ceremony will commemorate Carter G. Woodson, the father of African American History month. The festivities will begin at 1 p.m. in the Koret Auditorium at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St. Local comedienne and motivational speaker Veronica Dangerfield will emcee the event which features performances by the Praise N Sign Dancers, dancers Kathleen Franklin and Susan Tobiason and singer Angela Dean-Baham. The event is free and open to the public.

This year's Unsung Hero Award winners are:

Harriet and Alex Bagwell, members of the Freedom Song Network and the Vukani Mawethu Choir. The couple uses their musical talents to support local, national and international issues.

Ridwana Bentley, the founder of Lutheran Church of Our Savior "Happy Birthday Fund" which arranges and hosts birthday parties for homeless children, foster children and children affected with HIV/AIDS with a goal of putting a smile on a child's face on their birthday.

Jean Burks, a retired educator from the San Francisco Public School system and an active member in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for more than 50 years.

Dr. James Calloway, an educator for over 38 years in San Francisco and San Mateo counties. He's worked with many parents and students in San Francisco especially in the Bayview Hunters Point community.

LeRoy Gillead (aka Mr. G), a longtime community worker and volunteer with the San Francisco Unified School District working with at-risk children developing and implementing strategies to foster a greater level of awareness and appreciation for education.

Thomas Piggee, a prison evangelist and community figure who by standing on local street corners relentlessly shares his goodwill and positive and uplifting messages throughout his community.

Angela Stewart and Kimberly Kelley, licensed foster care parents who established the Healthy Children Pantry at the Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy.

Monifa Turner, active in the organization, Parents Who Care, and serves as president, chairperson or fundraiser for several community groups.

Nathanial Williams Sr., a generous donator of time and money to the children of his community, giving them the opportunities to participate in field trips as well as helping purchase classroom resources.

Larry Ware, a local community activist, a Bay Area historian, host of the annual Bayview Poetry Recital and a member of the San Francisco Public Library's Council of Neighborhood Libraries.

Special San Francisco Public Library Award:

Betty Gibson, worked for the San Francisco Public Library beginning in 1966 in the catalog department and then at various branches. For the last 14 years she worked at the Western Addition Branch where she was instrumental in closing and then re-opening the library after its renovation. She retired in June 2008.

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