When local farmer Randy Dickey was presented with the Agricultural Leader of the Year award at the Best of Turlock ceremony on Friday, he voiced a common attitude among the seven awardees.
"I'm being honored for just doing what I do. We're just out there doing our thing," said Dickey, as he choked up, overcome with emotion.
Every year the Turlock Chamber of Commerce recognizes local leaders in business, agriculture, education and humanitarian efforts through the Best of Turlock awards.
Although the Chamber handed out only seven awards — and one special recognition — at its 48th annual ceremony on Friday, Chamber President and CEO Karin Moss acknowledged the many leaders who make the community great.
"As I Iook around the room this evening, I see so many leaders who are guiding lights, so many contributors to our community and so many people who are engaged and enthused and working tirelessly to keep Turlock such a great place to live and such a great place to do business," said Moss.
Just like Dickey, Emanuel Cancer Center volunteer Nancy Daley had trouble getting her thoughts together when accepting the award for Humanitarian of the Year.
"I wish you were all 5-year olds. I'm not very good at talking to adults," said Daley, who is one of the founders of Monkey Business, a free support group for children who have a family member being treated for cancer. Daley also volunteers as a co-facilitator of the Young Adults Cancer Support Group and at Jessica's House, a grief support program for children and teens, where she facilitates the parent loss support group, grandparent loss support group and suicide loss support group.
"This award should be for the families we work with who have gone through so much. They are my heroes...they have so much courage."
Citizen of the Year Kristin Bettencourt said that she is surrounded by so many generous and supportive people who have helped make all her fundraising efforts for the Turlock Salvation Army, the American Cancer Society and the Arrowhead Club a success. She also promised to continue to be Turlock's biggest cheerleader.
"It's overwhelming," said Bettencourt about being named Turlock's Citizen of the Year. "I'm just super grateful and honored. I love this community so much and promise to try my best to live up to this title."
There were a few changes in this year's awards program. The first change was one in the timing of the event, which moved from January/February to September this year. There was also a new selection process for the winners.
Following nominations from the entire community, a panel of five judges representing the Chamber, business, government and nonprofit organizations in town considered the qualifications of each candidate and selected the top two or three for each category. Those finalists were recognized in a special section published in the Journal. The winners in each category weren't announced until the awards ceremony, held Friday at the Assyrian American Civic Club.
The Chamber also presented a special recognition at the Best of Turlock ceremony to longtime Chamber employee and community supporter Sharon Berry.
"She has been a fixture in our community as long as I can recall. I consider her to be reliable, friendly and helpful and someone who doesn't know the word 'no.' I've always been touched by that Bette Midler song, 'Wind Beneath My Wings' and tonight's recipient is someone who embodies that sentiment. She's been happy to remain quietly behind the scenes enhancing the lives and efforts of so many community members, committees and Best of Turlock recipients," said Oak Valley Community Bank Turlock branch manager Dianna Bettencourt when presenting the award to Berry.
Berry's sons Brock and Blake Berry and her daughter-in-law Indu were also on hand during the presentation of the award, adding to the surprise recognition. Her sons said Berry was always involved in the community, from coaching the Turlock High cheerleaders to learning how to teach diving so she could coach her sons' high school team. She was a volunteer coordinator at the Stanislaus County Fair for a number of years, and was on the National Ski Patrol at Dodge Ridge for at least 10 years.
"She's not much of a slowdown type of person," said Brock Berry.