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Woodbridge issues Excellence Awards for citizens’ contributions

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Joanne Donadio

Dave Vaccarezza

Frank Palmer

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:17 am, Wed Jan 19, 2011.

The Woodbridge Municipal Advisory Council pulled out the proverbial red carpet and honored five people who made the community a better place.

Reno and Wendy DeBenedetti, Frank Palmer and Dave Vaccarezza received Woodbridge Excellence Awards. Additionally, Joanne Donadio received an honorable mention award.

“Government doesn’t make a community; people make a community, volunteers make a community,” said San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel, who presented framed certificates to the honorees.

The presentations were made at a special MAC meeting on Tuesday night at the Lodi Elks Lodge on Lower Sacramento Road. Outgoing MAC chairman Tasso Kandris announced that the award to Palmer, pastor of Woodbridge Missionary Baptist Church, will be presented to him a second time at Sunday’s 11 a.m. service at his church.

“We started something I thought was important,” Kandris said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The MAC plans to make the Woodbridge Excellence Awards an annual event.

Here are the winners:

Reno and Wendy DeBenedetti

Contribution to Woodbridge: Initiated the idea to build planter boxes on Indiana Street along a brick wall to cover up graffiti. Also keep an eye out for unsafe activity at Woodbridge Community Park and helped with the annual Spring Fling and National Night Out.

Education: Reno attended San Joaquin Delta College; Wendy attended Sacramento City College.

Occupation: Wendy is a dental hygienist; Reno is a theatrical lighting designer for LB Lights West in Lodi, which provides lighting for concerts, festivals and special events.

Family: Daughter, Kenna, 6; son, Gianni, 3.

Dave Vaccarezza

Contribution to Woodbridge: Helped organize downtown Woodbridge property owners to participate in the beautification project on Lower Sacramento Road; organized downtown business to form an assessment district to maintain Lower Sacramento Road, including planters; provided a Dumpster for Boy Scouts and other volunteers to dump trash they collected from under the Mokelumne River bridge on Lower Sacramento Road; provides notices from the Woodbridge MAC occasionally as an insert in monthly billing statements.

Other honors: Inducted to Lodi Community Hall of Fame in 2006.

Education: Graduated from Lodi High School in 1973, attended San Francisco State University and California State University, Fresno.

Occupation: Owns California Waste Recovery Systems, with offices in Woodbridge. Family-owned operation since 1927.

Family: Wife, Kandas; two grown sons, Casey and Rudy.

Frank Palmer

Contributions to Woodbridge: Hosts “Trunk or Treat” for the community on Halloween; Wednesday evening youth group consisting of games, arts and crafts and sports; food commodity program monthly.

Education: California Missionary Baptist Church in Bellflower.

Occupation: Pastor, First Missionary Baptist Church of Woodbridge.

Family: Wife, Carol; children, Greg, Jeff and Sara; four grandchildren.

Joanne Donadio

Contributions to Woodbridge: Co-founded Neighborhood Watch and Woodbridge food commodity program; working to restore Woodbridge Community Park. Also arranged blood drives in Woodbridge and participated in Spring Fling and the Woodbridge Rural Fire District’s annual pancake breakfast. Also very knowledgeable about Woodbridge history.

Education: Woodbridge School, Lodi High School.

Occupation: Retired. Worked for an accounting firm, Pacific Coast Producers and what was then called Lodi Sanitary City Disposal.

Family: Sister, Marilyn Girsh, brothers, Jim and Charles Donadio, all of Lodi.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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