The Pajaro Valley Chamber Of Commerce and Agriculture announced the recipients of its 2019 Annual Awards. They will be honored at the 57th Annual Dinner on February 2, 2019. This is an amazing group of individuals, businesses and organizations have all made Santa Cruz County a better place with their unending dedication and giving of their time.
Man of the Year
Brad Hubbard came to Watsonville in 1983. Anyone involved with Watsonville High athletics in the past three decades knows of his steadfast dedication. Brad has served in many capacities including coaching softball, which included several CCS appearances, football, boys and girls basketball and served as Athletic Director for over 15 years. During a two-year stint, he was the department chairperson for Math and Science. Brad also volunteered to teach classes that he never taught before — especially classes no one else wanted.
He learned how to coach “free-hand, by watching and asking.” Brad is always willing to learn and ask questions.
When a coach was needed, he would jump in no matter the sport. His dedication to the students of Watsonville High included tutoring countless kids in math during his own time whenever he heard it was needed.
If he learned of a student in need, he quietly helped them giving clothes, food or money.
Brad is the organizer of countless fundraisers – carnivals, golf tournaments, chicken dinners, tri-tip dinners – for youth sports that have raised tens of thousands of dollars each year. He has nearly single-handedly raised funds enough for nine athletic vans – including one for Pajaro Valley High School – and keeps them maintained.
He was given the “Distinguished Service Award,” the highest award given by the Central Coast Section (CCS) for his service to the entire section that stretches from San Francisco to King City and is widely known throughout the section for his sportsmanship, generosity, and volunteerism
Elaine Legorreta, Principal of Watsonville High School stated, “Every WHS principal has been told by people in the community to “look out for Brad,” “Take some of the load off of Brad,” etc. – and then he just adds more! Brad is a force that can’t be stopped.
Woman of the Year
Lori started Jacob’s Heart in 1998 at her kitchen table when her friend’s son Jacob was diagnosed with leukemia. Lori has since built the organization from the ground up. Under her leadership, Jacob’s Heart has grown from serving one child with cancer 19 years ago, to a nationally recognized model of community-based pediatric palliative care serving hundreds of children and thousands of family members each year.
In 2002, in response to a crisis in public health services for children with serious illnesses, Lori cofounded the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition and served as Co-Executive Director for eight years along with Devon Dabbs. There, they built a state-wide coalition dedicated to improving care for children with life-threatening conditions, spearheading several healthcare policy initiatives including the enactment of the Nick Snow Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Act of 2006, which paved the way for the Partners for Children pediatric palliative care program in California.
Lori was instrumental in the enactment of Provision 2302 of the Affordable Care Act, which allows children to receive hospice care concurrently with curative therapies. These provisions allow for an entirely new hospice and palliative care service delivery model for children with cancer and other life-threatening conditions. The service delivery model created by Jacob’s Heart was key to the design of these public policy initiatives.
Business of the Year
Alladin Nursery and Gift Shop
Alladin Nursery was founded in 1919 by Niels Peter Jensen of Denmark and in 1946 was purchased by Ben and Dorothy Roth. Alladin’s will be celebrating their 100th Anniversary in 2019, which is extremely rare for an independently owned nursery to be in operation in the same location for so many years. This shows Alladin’s has been an outstanding business supported by generations of loyal customers.
Alladin was taken over by Eldon and Les, the Roth’s two sons in 1970, and they ran the business with their wives Susan and Joyce. Alladin Nursery has survived fire in 1969, floods in 1982, severe drought in 1987, and the earthquake of 1989. The business grew from a small wholesale bedding plant business into a thriving retail nursery, landscape design and full-service florist and gift shop.
Gustavo Beyer became the new owner of Alladin Nursery in 2005 and is still running it today hosting gardening classes and other events throughout the year. You can find him there nearly every day of the week, greeting his customers with a smile.
Whether it’s donating to a non-profit or hosting a fundraiser, it has always been Alladin’s policy to support schools and organizations. There is an almost unending list of recipients that have been supported by Alladin’s.
Organization of the Year
Two out of every three Pajaro Valley Medi-Cal recipients are not able to access the dentist. This creates a risk for oral health issues, for overall health, problems with eating and affects the self-esteem of our neighbors.
Dientes has been serving Pajaro Valley for over 25 years, and in 2015 Dientes opened a 4-chair clinic on Freedom Blvd in Watsonville which provides 7,000 visits per year. In the future, they plan to expand the Watsonville clinic with an additional chair.
The number one reason low-income children miss school is due to dental problems. In the past year, Dientes added five Pajaro Valley schools to the Outreach Program bringing its reach to 25 local schools where dentists and clinic staff provide care. Dientes’ goal is to make prevention more common than treatment.
Event of the Year
Aldina’s Chili Cook Off
Aldina’s Charity Cook-Off has grown over the past five years and truly brings the community together. The Cook-Off connects an array individuals and businesses together for fun comradeship, yummy competition and all to benefit their favorite charity. With 19 competitors this year, the judges had the challenge of tasting and selecting the best-of-the-best chili.
Aldina and her team have been hosting this event for five years and each year it seems to grow not only in participants, but the community comes out in droves to support a great afternoon of fun, music, prizes and food. Participants bring awareness to a large amount of non-profits who serve the Pajaro Valley. Community leaders, media personalities and city officials are invited to be Chili Judges.
Jynette Sousa-Melo says, “We have really enjoyed bringing together our community of participants and learning about so many charities.”
Charities benefitting from Aldina’s Chili Cook Off include: The Salvation Army, Together In Pajaro, Cindy’s Celebrations, Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust, Azteca’s Youth Soccer League, Santa Cruz Prostate Cancer Support Group, CASA, Santa Cruz Toddler Center, St. Francis High School, Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, Pajaro Valley Little League, Pajaro Valley Shelter Services, Bay School, and the Equine Rescue Center.
The Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture is pleased to honor Alex Solano with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award He has given so much to not only our community, but to our country.
Alex’s son, Manny Solano states, “We are overjoyed to hear the news that our father, Alex Solano, was selected to receive the Chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He has always been a hero in our eyes and a model for what it means to live a life of service.”
Here are just some of Alex Solano’s notable achievements:
- Born in Mexicali Mexico December 5, 1931.
- Came to the US as infant on a green card along with family who worked in the fields, sleeping in tents and farmworker housing until they could save for a house. They settled in Watsonville in 1941.
- Son of Salome Solano, who worked as a Labor Contractor for Borina Farms. His mother, Silveria Solano, worked for Watsonville Canning Company.
- Married to the former Patricia LouAnna Gospodnetich in 1959 until her passing on April 3, 2017.
- Raised 5 children; GeriAnne, Susan, Manny, Michael & Michelle
- Staff Sergeant, United States Air Force (enlisted) 1952-1956 assigned as Crew Chief in charge of Saber Jet maintenance.
- Naturalized Citizen in Nice, France while serving his country overseas.
- USAF Reserve 1956-1960
- Member, American Legion, Edward H. Lorenson Post in Watsonville
- Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars in Watsonville
- Inductee, 2009 Watsonville High School Hall of Fame
- Member, Mexican American Political Association (MAPA)
- American GI Forum (Hispanic Veterans, Education & Civil Rights organization)
- Watsonville Fiesta Patrias (Mexican Independence Day) Committee Member
- Hall District Elementary School PTA
- PVUSD School Board Member, 1976-1984 (first Mexican elected to the board, two terms)
- PVUSD named a school in his honor “Solano Summit Academy” (alternative middle school formerly on East Lake Avenue).
- Watsonville Veteran’s Day Committee member
- Volunteer Registrar of Voters
- Commercial Refrigeration Mechanic for Hunting-Bye Refrigeration for 41 years
- Volunteer, South County Veterans Services providing outreach to veterans needing assistance (regularly assists Veteran’s Services Representative Lorena Vasquez)
- Took in a homeless veteran and his developmentally disabled son while waiting for veterans medical and housing benefits. Police found the man and his son one winter, sleeping in the cab of their pickup truck at Ramsey Park. The man had no idea he was eligible for benefits until Alex came along.
- Member of Watsonville Slavic American Cultural Organization since its inception in 1979
- WHS Class of 1952 High School Reunion Committee
- Board member for the Pajaro Valley Historical Association. Member of the Garden and Facilities Committee.
- Member of Watsonville Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 119
- Volunteer, Watsonville Young Eagles “Kid’s Fly Free” Program, Watsonville Municipal Airport.
- Member, Corralitos Grange
- Volunteer, Elkhorn Slough Foundation (tide gate project)
- Selected to participate in 2018 “Honor Flight Central Coast” trip to Washington, DC. He flew out of San Luis Obispo Airport on October 15th and returned on the 17th. He was one of 22 veterans who have been selected on this special trip. They visited national monuments and memorials dedicated to those who have served. It was an all-expense paid trip for veterans and a trip of a lifetime!