Citizen of the Year
Since setting foot in Aliso Viejo more than a decade ago, Nancy has dedicated her time and efforts to volunteering and giving back to the community.
Nancy has been active in just about every thing. She served as a logistics volunteer for the city’s Aliso Viejo Community Cup Golf Tournament and Founder’s Day at the Ranch. She hosted a craft project at the Twilight Camp and helps with the City’s booths during AVCA events. Nancy assists at the Family Resource Center during fall and holiday events. She has also stepped in to help at the E-Waste event, Meet the Mayor event and has served as co-logistics chair for the Aliso Creek clean-up day.
If that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Nancy is also a proud recent graduate of the city’s Emergency Preparedness class.
Nancy feels that volunteering her time helps lend an extra pair of hands to the city’s staff, so they can implement programs and support residents. Nancy also feels it’s important to provide a homeowner’s perspective to the programs and events.
Nancy, who has been married to her husband, Bill, for 25 years, also spends her time serving as the AVCA delegate for her homeowners association. She is on Carmel’s Board of Directors and serves on its landscape committee. She is a member Aliso Viejo’s Chamber of Commerce and is active in the American Diabetes Walk; Relay for Life; Trails 4 All; Aliso Viejo Community Foundation; and Registrar of Voters.
Giving back to this special community is something Nancy believes is essential. She feels that people should be willing to give their time and energy to achieve goals that make people want to live, work and play in Aliso Viejo. Nancy has truly strived to live up to those standards and do the best that she can to help in anyway possible.
When not busy volunteering or with her homemade crafts business, Nancy enjoys spending time with her family. The couple has a grown son, Corey, and dog named Zoey.
Youth of the Year (2)
Anyone who knows Jennifer Okabayashi, 18, knows she is one determined young lady. She is determined to succeed in her studies, Girl Scouting and in life. She is determined to bring awareness to others and give back to the community. As a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a certified training instructor from the American Tae Kwon Do Centers, Jennifer has been determined to use her 13 years of martial-arts training and compassion to help teach girls self-defense skills.
Last September, Jennifer taught two self-defense workshops at the Aliso Viejo Library and the City’s FRC for teenage girls. She enlisted instructors and law-enforcement personnel to help teach the importance of knowing self defense. The students learned different self-defense moves – such as how to escape from a wrist grab and choke hold. The workshops included raffles for different prizes such as a free month of Tae Kwon Do at A.T.C., which was donated by Jennifer’s Grandmaster Konrad Spillmann. Jennifer gave each girl a “Fox 40” whistle, which is designed for self-defense purposes, and lists of general safety tips and informational self-defense Web sites. Jennifer says the most important part of the workshop was sharing a terrifying personal experience of how she was almost attacked by a man to drive the importance of self defense home.
Each gal that participated in the class contributed $5 to the American Women’s Self Defense Association, which resulted in Jennifer donating $100 to the association. The association teaches self-defense classes for women throughout the country.
Jennifer, a 16-year Aliso Viejo resident and recent Aliso Niguel High School graduate, said she put the workshops together for her Gold Award project in Girl Scouting but more so to raise awareness among girls that bad people exist no matter where you live. She felt that passing on her knowledge of self defense to other girls that would not know how to defend themselves against an attacker is essential. In essence, Jennifer wants to prevent a girl from becoming another victim.
Right now Jennifer is busy working as a nanny for four children. In the fall, she plans to attend UC Riverside to earn a business degree and eventually become a fashion buyer. In her free time, she enjoys shopping and watching TV.
Sheridah Bennett believes that you can never do enough to encourage youngsters to be fit and participate in fun sports activities. She believes you can never do enough to be active in and give back to the community. So when the active 13-year resident heard that the city’s Family Resource Center had a need, she didn’t hesitate to lend her skills, drive and heart.
Sheridah, 17, taught a tennis class at the City-owned facility last year. It was held for an hour and a half one day a week for six weeks. Sheridah and her friend delighted in teaching kids the basics of tennis and incorporated games to make the class fun. Sheridah, who embraced teaching the children, will pick up her tennis racket and continue her class soon by teaching a three-week class that will meet three days a week. This year, she is kicking it up a notch by hosting a tournament day at the last class where the kids can win small prizes and receive gift certificates for their participation in the program.
Giving back to the community is something that Sheridah began doing at a tender age. The Aliso Niguel High School student has been an active member in her church since she was in sixth grade. She spends her time working with kids through Vacation Bible School as well as Sunday school during the year. Sheridah is also a middle-school group co-leader for a group of sixth and seventh grade girls.
Senior of the Year
Marcelle Fortier was an active player in helping Aliso Viejo to become an official city on July 1, 2001. Seeing the city she has lived in since 1985 become Orange County’s 34th city was a defining moment and labor of love for Marcelle. She dedicated her time working on the Cityhood 2000 committee, where she focused on raising money and working with volunteers.
Throughout the years, Marcelle has witnessed many defining moments in Aliso Viejo. Several surrounding cities had libraries but Aliso Viejo lacked one. So, Marcelle made it her mission, along with others, to establish a public library in Aliso Viejo. Before the library was built, Marcelle was a member of the Friends of the Library and devoted her time to fundraising and collecting books, so that when the library was built, it would be ready for the community. Throughout the process, Marcelle’s determination, energy and zeal never waned, and she took great pride and satisfaction being part of the welcoming committee when the Aliso Viejo Library opened on Jan. 31, 1998.
For years, Marcelle has been active in town ever since moving to Aliso Viejo to spend her golden years of retirement. She worked part time and spent a number of years as an AVCA delegate for the Heather Ridge Homeowners Association, always keeping a pulse on the community and its affairs. Marcelle says she loves Aliso Viejo because it’s vibrant and offers a lot of opportunities for people to serve the community through the city, AVCA and individual homeowner associations.