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Rev. David Hill named to Hall of Fame for his work with Breakthrough Project

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Posted: Sunday, September 10, 2006 10:00 pm

Rev. David Hill says he doesn't give alone to the community; he is part of a team of people working together.

Hill, of Grace Presbyterian Church, is known for helping found the Lodi Breakthrough Project, which educates the community and counsels victims of hate crimes. The project has existed since 1997 after a cross was burned at Tokay High School, the day after a city-wide Martin Luther King Jr. service.

For his contributions to the community in service, he has been named to the Lodi Community Hall of Fame.

"He is simply an extraordinary man with a vision about what faith can do for this town," said Lodi attorney Randy Rosá, who also helped found the Breakthrough Project.

Other inductees this year include Tracy Williams, Rising Star, executive director of the LOEL Center and Gardens who has volunteered for numerous organizations; Dr. Peter Hetzner, of Lodi Optometry Group, for health care, who has been a part of many community groups; Bill and Carol Meehleis, for community service, owner of Meehleis Modular Building and supporters of many nonprofit organizations; David Vaccarezza, for business, president of California Waste Recovery Systems, who is involved in the community; and the late Horace "Bud" Woodworth, for agriculture, a farmer who was a community leader.

"I'm honored and humbled," he said. "Whatever I do, I'm part of a community of people."

Hill helps the community because of faith.

"The church needs to be involved in the larger community," he said. "God wants us to be a blessing, to bring healing, peace, well-being … Faith gives me that direction."

Hill and another pastor were asked to lead the first town-wide celebration service of Martin Luther King Jr. day. The next day, a cross was burned at Tokay High. The following day, police, fire fighters, school employees, pastors, and those in the medical field and more met at Randy Rosá's office to make a response. Following their response, a KKK group in the Victor area sent out fliers.

"We wanted an organization to speak out against hate crimes and do healing for victims," said Hill, who is currently president of the Breakthrough Project. "It's an area we all need to be aware of so people can live in peace and that the community is receptive of all backgrounds."

An agreement was made between the Lodi Police Department and the Breakthrough Project that both would work together in responding to hate crimes. The project has pianted over graffiti, given support to victims, and educated the community by having an essay contest for junior high school students about diversity. They also continue to do MLK services each year.

The group also supports Celebration on Central, Mexican independence day and more to help celebrate the different cultures in the community.

Hill also is president of the Lodi Ministerial Association, a community of ministers, works with the colunteer chaplain program at Lodi Memorial Hospital and started the chaplain program at the Lodi Police Department.

He says his primary commitment is his congregation, and he enjoys working with the people there.

He has been in Lodi since 1982. He graduated from Queen Anne High School in Seattle. He's been married to his wife Connie since 1978, and they have two sons.

New inductees to the Hall of Fame will be honored Oct. 14 at the Lodi Boys and Girls Club, 275 E. Poplar St. No-host cocktails begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30. Reservations may be arranged by calling the club at 334-2697. Tickets are $45 each.

Contact reporter Jennifer Gokhman at jenniferg@lodinews.com.

First published: Monday, September 11, 2006

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