Richard Imperiale – Individual

Imperiale-001Richard Imperiale began volunteering in the early 1970’s.  Over the years he was involved with his children’s activities including Boy Scouts (as a leader and merit badge counselor), DeMolay, Little League Baseball, and Rainbow Girls.  He coached long jump for five years at Woodside High School. For the last fifteen years he has been involved with the Junior Olympics for 7-12 year olds held at Woodside High School.

Even though he has never had children or grandchildren at Hoover School in Redwood City, for the past thirteen years Richard has volunteered four hours a day Monday through Thursday.  To all he is affectionately known as Mr. I!  He reads books with students and works with small groups on their math and reading skills.  If you saw him in the classroom, you would think he was a second teacher. You would see him reviewing a range of skills from learning new vocabulary words to remembering the steps in three-digit subtraction problems. The students especially love when he shows up sporting a Dr. Seuss hat or dressed as the Grinch in December.  On Fridays he visits Fair Oaks and Selby Lane Schools where he reads stories to preschool students. The teachers and students always look forward to his visits.

One kindergarten teacher described Mr. I’s impact on many parent volunteers. “The parents know that he has no children or grandchildren at Hoover, yet he is so generous in helping their own children. He breaks the ice for many new Kindergarten parents who at first may feel a little uncomfortable with their ability to help.  Each year he is recognized at our school volunteer tea and those parents who have come to know him over the year and in past years, and especially the new Kindergarten parent volunteers celebrate with applause and admiration at his many years of service.  Each year we have new parent volunteers to be thankful for, but some of the same familiar faces that return year after year, started in a classroom where perhaps they were even more inspired to volunteer because Mr. I was also there to help.”

Mr. I was born in Oakland and raised in San Francisco until his junior year in high school when his family moved to Redwood City.  He graduated from Sequoia High School.  He and his parents owned IMPERIALE Hardware in Woodside Plaza, and then he went on to work at United Airlines for almost thirty years as a computer operations manager.  He has been married to his wife Judy for fifty years, and has three children, Jill Imperiale, Richard Imperial Jr., and Salad Imperiale.

Mr. I is an inspiration to us all, showing us daily how one individual can make a real difference in our community.

Rocket Fuel – Business

rocket FuelThe 2013 Sequoia Award for Outstanding Business is presented to Rocket Fuel. In 2008 Rocket Fuel was founded by online advertising veterans and rocket scientists from NASA, Yahoo!,, and DoubleClick.  They came together with one simple mission: to make marketing easier and more effective for brands, and to give consumers a unique and relevant online experience. Awarded #4 on Forbes’ 2013 Most Promising Companies in America list, Rocket Fuel currently employs over 300 people in 15 offices worldwide including New York, London, Toronto, and Hamburg.

Headquartered in Redwood City, Rocket Fuel also makes a tremendous difference through volunteerism in our local communities.

Led by a dedicated group of employees “Rocket Fuel Gives Back” was founded for the sole purpose of community outreach including serving at homeless shelters and coordinating and participating in food and toy drives.

Partnering with InnVision Shelter Network

•    Bi-weekly food and supply donations to the Maple Street homeless shelter.
•    Monthly catered lunch events at 1st Step for Families and Maple street shelters.
•    Catered Holiday events including Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas at both shelters.
•    Exceeded goals for SAL/PAL Christmas toy drive donations in 2012.
•    Tripled 2nd annual Food Bank barrel donations in 2012.

Over the past eighteen months these volunteer efforts have grown with the support of the company’s executives and partners. Rocket Fuel has begun fund raising events to support education programs that will benefit at-risk youth by partnering with United Way of the Bay Area through events such as the “Infinity of Books for the Holidays” at Nissan Infiniti where convertibles were filled with books for Bay Area children.

Going forward the employees and executives of Rocket Fuel look forward to expanding and increasing their volunteer efforts in the communities in which they live, work and play.

Caroline Baltay

Baltay-001Caroline has been involved with service since she joined the Hands and Hearts  Jr.  Optimist Club at North Star. Her activities since have been extensive and varied. Caroline served as the Lt. Governor for the Jr. Optimist/Octagon District during her sophomore and junior years. She has volunteered helping keep children safe during Halloween with Spooktakular, helped in the Discovery Shop benefitting American Cancer Society, participated in Coyote Point Cleanups and collected books for literacy in Swaziland. Caroline has shown leadership skills also by recruiting others to join her in her volunteer activities, as she astutely notices, every friend she convinces to help, benefits many more people.  It is evident to others that her enthusiasm is contagious and motivates many around her!

Matthew Boland

Boland-001Matt’s first recollection of volunteering goes back to when he was five years old and volunteered with his family to help families in need at Church of the Nativity’s Adopt a Family program, a program that Matt continues to support to this day. Clearly his parents and older brother set a wonderful standard for Matt and inspired him to volunteer. This was not the only lesson regarding volunteering that Matt learned at home. When his older brother had challenges academically, Matt started tutoring him. Matt realized he had gifts that he could share with others and he brought this out into the community. At Serra High School, Matt has served as a peer tutor and an Academic Captain on the football team. He also is a dedicated volunteer to the Admission’s office at school.  In the community, Matt has volunteered with Rebuilding Together, St. Vincent de Paul, at the Fire Department’s Junior Fire Academy and at various Rotary events. Matt’s true passion however is with the tutoring of other students. He has recently taken on leadership roles to expand the tutoring that he and others do at Serra High School.

Edwin Cano

Cano-001Edwin Cano explains how he came to understand intrinsically how volunteering was not just doing something and not getting paid for it, but instead is an investment in yourself, your community and your future. Edwin, himself a child of migrant immigrants, understands personally the issues his community faces.  He is not afraid to get his hand’s dirty helping.  He has logged 400  hours helping his home and school community by working to lower teen pregnancies in his school, facilitating open discussions and explorations of the issues with the Youth Advisory Board.  He improves his neighborhood with the Healthy Corner Store Makeover – encouraging Fair Oak’s Businesses to provide healthy alternatives and reducing their promotion of tobacco and alcohol.  Finally he serves as Treasurer for the Migrant Youth Program helping other students to learn how to succeed in the Sequoia High School District and get into college. Edwin is an inspiration for his community!

Samantha Castaneda

Casteneda-001Sam has volunteered at The Boys and Girls Club, Girls to Women, Canopy and Ecumenical Hunger in Palo Alto. She has also volunteered at Lytton Gardens retirement home. Sam seems to embody the spirit of volunteerism by inspirationally bringing her greatest love and strength, art, to service. With art she has enabled communication with adults suffering from Alzheimer’s, and with young girls at the Boys and Girls Club and Girls to Women. Sam sees volunteering as an opportunity to learn about the lives of others, while simultaneously enriching those lives. She emerges from her efforts better sensitized and able to work her magic on her next service group.  Sam, although she has survived her personal struggles with parental illness and economic hardship, proves that giving the best and most beautiful of yourself truly enriches others.

William Dahu

Dahu-001Meeting William, one is presented with a charming, at ease mature young man. William credits his volunteerism for helping to shape who he is today. William has been a tireless volunteer for Project READ through the Redwood City Library where he has “committed endless hours to the program over the past four years” says Gil Gaeta, a literacy specialist with the program. When he first started however, William was extremely shy and found the social challenges of school difficult enough. When William’s mother enrolled him in the Project READ program, William recalls, being apprehensive, anxious and quite nervous. Something clicked and William became inspired to help children who were having challenges in areas in which he excelled. William says volunteering changed who he is. Project READ says that William’s volunteering has changed the lives of many other children. William states that his experience with Project READ “will be my drive to look for other volunteer opportunities throughout my life, wherever it may take me.”

Aureliano Davila

Davila-001Aureliano immigrated to the United States when he was one year old. His family faced many challenges and as a child his parents explained to him that they needed and depended on the help of others to obtain the bare necessities. His parents also explained to him the concept of paying it forward and that one day they and particularly Aureliano would be in a position to help others and it would be their responsibility to help. One would not have thought that this lesson would have stuck so early or that Aureliano would have given back so much in this brief period of time but that is just another surprise from this remarkable young man. Aureliano has been an extremely active volunteer with the Siena Center where he teaches Yoga and tutors children from disadvantaged families. He has volunteered with the Sheriff’s Activities League and Project READ at Fair Oaks Elementary School. At Sequoia, Aureliano has been instrumental in the running of the Gay Student Alliance. Aureliano says that through volunteering he has come to understand the value and importance of community. In the years to come, it is clear that Aurelaino will continue to pay it forward to the communities he belongs to.

Sam Ek

Ek-001As a music mentor, Sam finds it fun to teach younger, elementary children the joys of music. He has spent his lifetime volunteering with music related activities, beginning with his participation in A Christmas Carol, A Gift at Notre Dame as a young child. He continues to collect canned food and toys for fundraising promoted by this event. Sam also serves as a Music Mentor helping elementary children in the Belmont/Redwood Shores School District and over the summer at the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford University.  In high school Sam has helped others with special needs participate in music and dance programs through SNAP. The child Sam has worked with shows demonstrable improvement in his balance and energy. Sam has participated in this even for four years culminating in a performance each spring and fall. Sam states eloquently that, “the act of volunteering is a kindness and we can all use a little more kindness in our lives.”

Manuel Espinoza

Espinoza-001Manuel Espinoza was introduced to volunteering through the Police Activities League (PAL) in Redwood City. Manuel’s boxing coach approached him about sharing his knowledge and skill with younger participants. What started out as an assignment to coach kids in boxing grew into a passion for mentoring youth in life. Manuel could see how this change was impacting the youth he was working with, and he could also see that it was changing him, helping him mature and to realize, “It’s not what you do, but why you do it.”  Manuel took this experience back to school where he became a tutor in the AVID/MESA program. His AVID teacher gives numerous examples of Manuel reaching out to peers to tutor, to mentor and to support them, even when he has significant responsibilities of his own to complete. Manuel looks forward to a career in business administration and the opportunity to make a difference in others lives.