Citizen of the Year Karen Rarey was honored for her tireless efforts on behalf of the community, including her work with the Liberty Union High School Education Foundation, Contra Costa County Transit Authority, Kiwanis Club, Relay for Life, John Marsh Historic Trust, and as a Parks and Recreation commissioner, to name a few.
Past Chamber President Fred Ehler read notes sent by former Citizens of the Year, calling Rarey a “tireless worker with a great heart … If she’s involved, you can be sure it’s a worthy cause … she’s always there.”
Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor echoed the praise. “What an honor” said Taylor. “If you look around the room at the past recipients, you see they are all unique, that they all stand out … They are all deserving and so are you. Congratulations.”
But one of the most touching moments of the evening came from Paul Rarey, Karen’s husband. Surrounded by their family, Paul congratulated his wife. “You have made me a better man just by being who you are,” he said.
“It just touches my heart,” said Karen. “And I thank you all for coming out here and supporting me.”
The semi-formal evening included cocktails, a buffet featuring prime rib, pumpkin ravioli and chicken marsala, plus gourmet desserts.
Local resident David McClellan serenaded the crowd with renditions of popular show tunes such as “Mame.” McClellan customized the lyrics for the occasion, substituting “Karen” for “Mame” – sung by the audience.
The Brentwood Press & Publishing Corporation received accolades as the Business of the Year, along with some good-natured roasting from Chamber President Paul Kelly.
“The Brentwood Press promotes achievements and successes in our community,” said Kelly. “And one of my favorites is the Best of Brentwood. You can’t swing a cat in this town without seeing one of those stickers.”
“My, my, my,” said Taylor of the Press award. “There are people who anticipate this paper and its delivery every week, looking for their kid’s pictures in it. For me, I look to see what they are saying about me, and sometimes it’s not too good.
“But there is nothing like this neighborhood paper. I call the Brentwood Press good stuff. Congratulations.”
Press co-founder and managing editor Rick Lemyre joked that when he and CEO Jimmy Chamoures were brainstorming names for The Press in 1999, Lemyre campaigned for The Mirror. “And you can see how that turned out for me,” he joked. “But if we do reflect the mirror of the community, it’s because there are good things out there to report … I am really proud of everyone.”
Chamber Director Fred Elder was named Ambassador of the Year for his ongoing work throughout Brentwood, including the holiday parade and numerous other community goodwill projects.
Representatives from Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and Sen. Mark DeSaulnier’s office were also on hand to honor the winner with proclamations and congratulations.