Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley board members and staff members joined together Tuesday afternoon to recognize notable members and partners during the club’s annual holiday luncheon.
“We couldn’t function without them [the board] and all of their support,” said Matt Nelson, Boys and Girls Club’s director of administration. “We have the best board in the valley.”
A tradition dating back to 1969, the annual board luncheon reception honors individuals and partners with four awards: the Tom Veloz Board Member of the Year Award, the Tony Newhall Volunteer of the Year Award, the Gary Condie Special Recognition Award and the Sam Dixon Legacy Award.
This year’s award winners included: Russ Briley, Mike and Ann Marie Bjorkman, Richard and Marian Sandnes, the Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper, Rick Gould, Vera Yadao and Gary Condie.
Boys and Girls Club staff members choose the winners of the awards, according to Boys and Girls Club Chief Executive Officer David Menchaca.
“Every year it’s someone new and someone who has stepped up and helped the club,” Menchaca said.
Briley, the Signal’s executive vice president of community relations and audience development, received the Tom Veloz Board Member of the Year Award for his service to the club and his work in creating and leading club tours.
“Russ has been the example of a great board member,” Menchaca said. “The way he speaks about the club on the tour is really inspiring.”
For Briley, the most rewarding part of working with the Boys and Girls Club is the impact it makes on the children in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“The magic of this place is when the kids are here,” Briley said. “This is a very humbling; a lot of people are deserving of this award.”
Mike and Anne Marie Bjorkman were the recipients of the Tony Newhall Volunteer of Year Award. Anne Marie Bjorkman credits the club for shaping Mike, a former Boys and Girls Club
of Santa Clarita member, into who he is today.
This year’s Gary Condie Special Recognition Award went to two recipients: Richard and Marian Sandnes and the Signal newspaper.
Nearly one year ago Signal executives Chuck Champion, Gary Sproule and Briley purchased the Signal from former owner Morris Multimedia. Condie remembers receiving a phone call from Briley telling him of the news and the leadership’s wish to make the Signal a community newspaper again.
“I personally believe that all three of them have lived up to that,” Condie said.
Champion, the Signal’s president and publisher, said he wants to continue the legacy and historical contributions Tony Newhall and his family made to the Santa Clarita community.
“We appreciate the recognition for the work we do that, frankly, we love,” Champion said.
“It just shows our commitment to the community and organizations like this,” said Gary Sproule, the Signal’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer. “We want to engage in the community and this is a good example of that.”
Richard and Marian Sandnes were not present at the luncheon, but Condie noted that “without them, the club would not be the same.”
“There is absolutely no way to measure the contributions and support they have given to the club for years and years,” Condie said.
This year’s Sam Dixon Legacy Award went to Rick Gould, Santa Clarita’s director of parks, recreation and community service; Vera Yadao, a longtime Boys and Girls Club staff member; and Condie, who has worked with the Boys and Girls Club for 40 years.
For Yadao, her 20 years of service to the club are all because of her commitment to the organization’s children.
“The kids adore Vera,” Nelson said. “She has been a role model and a second mother to so many kids.”
Approximately four years after the Boys and Girls Club was founded, Condie joined the club’s governing board and has remained involved in the organization since.
“Gary [Condie] is an example of what a fantastic board member is all about,” Menchaca said. “You need people like Gary to be a part of your organization to give it heart.”
For Condie, his dedication to the club is also because of the children it impacts, influences and inspires throughout the years.
“I remember so many kids where the club was their home or second family,” he said. “A number of young people get their beginnings and direction here.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_