"To live in this community has been a great honor for me," said Gilbert, the leader of United Citizens for Better Neighborhoods (UCBN). "The City Council and the mayor have been so supportive of all the things we have done. We fight through the changes and challenges of the community."
In addition to working to get the county housing authority to deal with some Section 8 problem tenants, UCBN has assisted in combating loitering and illegal drug activity in Gas City. In March, Gilbert's group organized a March Against Crime on Lone Tree Way in the Deer Valley Plaza area to send an anti-crime message and to thank and support the Antioch Police Department for its service to the community.
Gilbert also was instrumental in removing a convicted sex felon from the community when he gathered information and reported it to the police. The offender was arrested within 24 hours on a felony warrant from Oakland.
The Chamber's first Youth of the Year Award went to Deer Valley High School senior Samantha Haycock. She's been an active participant in the GODSquad - a youth- and church-based group that helps the homeless, the hungry, neglected seniors, tsunami victims and cancer victims.
"I volunteer and help because it is the right thing to do," said Haycock. "In the words of Ben Harper, 'You can change the world with your own two hands.'"
Schooner's Grill and Brewery won the Business of the Year award for paving the way for dining in the Lone Tree corridor. Schooner's also holds an annual fund-raising golf tournament for the Antioch Scholarship Foundation, and an annual Toys for Tots drive, in addition to bringing recognition to Antioch by winning medals in state and national beer competitions.
The Lifetime Award went to Barbara Herendeen, who has been active in the Antioch Schools Educational Foundation, the Antioch Historical Society, the restoration of an antique fire truck at the Antioch Fairgrounds, and raising funds for the Antioch K-9 War Dog Memorial, among other community projects.
"We do this because we love what we do," said Herendeen. "In fact, we are honoring you (the community) today because we cannot do what we do without your support. The volunteers hold the fabric of our community together."
Mayor Don Freitas and Antioch Chamber of Commerce CEO Devi Lanphere were on hand to announce the winners.
"Not one of these individuals seek recognition," said Freitas. "If we could all be inspired by them, imagine what a great community we could become. Don't think for a second that you cannot make a difference. An individual can make a difference in the community."
An Environmental Business Partner Award went to Nature's Bounty Cafe for green business practices. The Chairman's Award went to Contra Costa County Times' Julie Bouslog for reaching out to other business members and creating a stronger image for the chamber.
Patty Chan, the 2001 recipient of the Citizen of the Year award, said, "I am glad that they have this award. Not everyone can win, but to be nominated is an honor. Antioch is full of giving and caring people. All the kindness I gave away, I got back ten times over."