Evelyn Taylor is being honored for her abiding dedication to providing equal educational opportunities to young people. It is clear that the overall sustainability of any society depends on the education of its youth. As principal of North Shoreview School in San Mateo with a 70% minority enrollment and many disadvantaged children, and as co-founder of Turnbull Learning Academy, a school with a 95% minority population, Evelyn Taylor went the extra mile to give all her students the opportunity to succeed. She introduced the “Efficacy” program to train everyone on campus how to deal with the diversity of backgrounds among her students. She arranged for Stanford University to share its education expertise with her faculty, and she found unique ways to get minority parents interested in the education of their children. Evelyn realized early on that her students could not learn if they were not properly fed, housed, and clothed, so she connected with Samaritan House and opened up her school’s gymnasium as a site for the distribution of clothing and hot meals five nights a week. She further invited Samaritan House to sponsor the North Central College Institute, a highly structured after-school program geared to putting students on the fast track to college starting in the third grade. Currently, Evelyn is director of Homework Central, a program based in local San Mateo churches which tutors students in North Central San Mateo who are bused everyday to schools outside the community.
Coyote Point Museum
Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education wins the award for teaching people of all ages about San Mateo County’s unique local ecology, the global environment, and our relationship with, and impact on, the Earth. Since the museum’s inception in 1954, more than a million visitors have learned the importance of protecting the environment through hands-on exhibits, live animals, and extensive gardens. The museum offers educational experiences which enhance curricula from pre-school to college level through tours, group programs, classes, and special exhibits, both at the museum and throughout the community. The museum is often the very first place where our county’s children are exposed to the meaning and importance of sustainability.
Mid-Peninsula Boys and Girls Club
The Mid-Peninsula Boys and Girls Club is recognized for its efforts to help disadvantaged youth between the ages of six to eighteen realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. The sustainability of any society ultimately rests with its youth. Mid-Peninsula Boys and Girls Club provides an array of educational, recreational, and social activities both after-school and during school intersession hours. The Club plays the role of surrogate parent to many of its members. It provides homework assistance, helps develop self-esteem and confidence, and encourages participation in activities that promote positive growth. The Club operates facilities in San Mateo and Daly City which employ a total of 16 youth professionals who are experienced in the areas of teaching, coaching, fitness training, life skills counseling, conflict resolution, and working with low-income and at-risk youth and their families.
Peninsula Habitat for Humanity
Peninsula Habitat for Humanity is being honored for its continuing efforts to build quality, affordable, ownership housing through volunteer efforts in long-term partnership with qualified families in San Mateo County. Shelter is a basic human need, thus a sustainable society makes sure that safe, affordable housing is available to all its citizens. Peninsula Habitat for Humanity brings the local community together to build houses for, and with, families with very low incomes. To date, Peninsula Habitat has built 44 single-family and condominium homes in San Mateo County and hopes to build 200 homes in the next five years. Individuals, congregations, organizations, cities, and corporations donate land, building materials, labor, and funds. Through teamwork, differences in culture, race, religion, and economic status become less important. The completed houses are sold to families who are expected to put in at least 500 hours of “sweat equity” working on their houses and the houses of others, and who are pre-qualified for their ability to pay back a zero interest loan. By investing their own time and talents, family members learn how their house is built, build a deep pride of ownership, and can better maintain their home in the long run.
Susan Sommers and the Friends of the Edgewood Natural Preserve
Susan Sommers and the Friends of Edgewood Natural Preserve win the award for their contribution toward establishing and maintaining one of the premier wildlife preserves on the Peninsula. Susan Sommers, recognizing that a sustainable community protects its precious natural resources so that they can be enjoyed by future generations, has worked for 25 years to document and preserve the unique biological diversity of Edgewood Park and Nature Preserve in San Carlos. In the late sixties, Susan compiled an extensive list of the park’s flora and discovered that several of Edgewood’s plants were on a list of rare and endangered species prepared by the California Native Plant Society. Her plant list plus aerial photos she took gave the State Fish & Game officials the documentation they needed to confirm Edgewood’s unique vegetation and diversity. In 1969, Susan became upset with the intrusion of off-road vehicles and motorcycles at Edgewood and asked state officials to bar their access. She also launched a personal campaign to educate others about Edgewood’s unique ecology and history, so by the time the county proposed developing a golf course on the site, she had brought awareness to many groups. The battle to prevent development of the golf course continued for several years, but finally in 1993, Edgewood was designated a natural preserve, and Susan became involved in creating a Master Plan for resource management of the park.
When it became apparent that the county did not have sufficient funding and staff to maintain the preserve without volunteer help, a group of concerned citizens formed the non-profit Friends of Edgewood Natural Preserve which has dedicated itself to protecting the native habitat at Edgewood for the past eight years. The Friends run a docent program, habitat restoration program, community outreach, and a trail patrol program. They lead wildflower walks at Edgewood every weekend in the Spring, and work to control the spread of non-native species and protect the natural flora year round.
Opportunities Industrialization Center West (OICW) received an Honorable Mention for its vocational training programs for minority and disadvantaged people in San Mateo County. OICW contributes to sustainability by its emphasis on the social well-being and economic vitality of San Mateo County.