Six individuals celebrated for their contributions to social change, volunteering, educational reform, and philanthropy
Palo Alto, CA (January 30, 2024) — Avenidas, an organization with services and programs devoted to older adults in the Palo Alto area, has selected one couple and four individuals for the 35th Annual Lifetimes of Achievement Awards. This group of six has dedicated their lives to social change, volunteering, educational reform, and philanthropy. This year’s honorees are:
- Emeritus Professor Clayborne Carson
- Judy Deggeller
- Julie Jerome
- Eimi Okano
- James Stinger & Valerie Stinger
Since 1989, Avenidas has bestowed awards to an outstanding roster of community-driven older adults over 65. The honorees were celebrated at a private reception on Monday, January 29, from 4 to 5:30 pm, at Avenidas, 450 Bryant Street in Palo Alto, in partnership with media partners, Palo Alto Weekly and Palo Alto Online.
“This year, we were overwhelmed by the number of nominations of older adults doing extraordinary work,” said Amy Yotopoulos, President and CEO of Avenidas. “With the over-60 population in Santa Clara County expected to grow more than 200 percent in the next 40 years, we recognize that our population is reinventing aging, and, through awards like Lifetimes of Achievement, we look forward to spotlighting their transformative contributions to our community.”
Clayborne Carson, Ph.D., has devoted his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements he inspired. His award-winning book, “In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s”, remains the definitive study of the courageous activists who challenged the strongholds of segregation. In 1985, Coretta Scott King selected him to edit and publish the papers of her late husband. In 2005, he founded Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute to disseminate King-related educational resources to a global audience. In his retirement, he founded The World House Project to work toward a global community where people can “learn somehow to live with each other in peace.” Dr. Carson and his wife, Susan Ann Carson, have two children and have lived in Palo Alto for more than 40 years.
Childhood literacy, music education, and senior programming and nutrition advocate Judy Deggeller has been instrumental in creating and operationalizing community-focused programs. From nurturing a library program into the nonprofit Bring Me a Book Foundation or co-authoring a memory, music, and exercise program for dementia patients in skilled care nursing facilities, she has brought innovative programs to the next level. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she delivered meals to neighbors and friends and from those recipes self-published a cookbook raising money to support Ecumenical Hunger. She currently volunteers with the Rosalie Rendu Center in East Palo Alto. Judy and her husband, Marty (a 2016 Lifetimes Honoree himself) live in Palo Alto and have two sons and four grandchildren.
Julie Jerome has been leading and influencing local civic institutions for over three decades. A former member of the Palo Alto Unified school board, she served as its president twice. In addition to being selected for the first class of Leadership Palo Alto, she also offered campaign support to local politicians. She has been the Board President of Palo Alto Community Fund, Adolescent Counseling Services, Palo Alto Community Child Care, and Co-president of Women’s Club of Palo Alto. She remains an active member of the Rotary Club of Palo Alto. In 2004, she received the Tall Tree Award as an Outstanding Citizen Volunteer. Julie and her husband, Jon, have one daughter and two grandchildren. They have lived in Palo Alto for 50 years.
Education, policy, and Asian American advocate Eimi Okano has changed the face of California textbook education and addiction awareness. As a former Palo Alto Unified School District teacher, she witnessed the lack of inclusion of California’s ethnically diverse population. She and Jeanette Arakawa prepared a report for the California State Board of Education, advocating for change which led to publishers diversifying K-12 textbook content. In 1973, she was one of the original founders of Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), an instrumental force in advocating for reparations for Japanese Americans after WWII. As a County of Santa Clara employee, Eimi also established the award-winning County Learning Institute, which made accessible the most recent and effective drug and alcohol research to County employees.
Valerie and Jim Stinger transitioned from successful Bay Area professionals to devoted community service champions post-retirement.
Valerie Stinger, MBA, spent 25 years of her professional career in marketing and development at Bay Area companies such as Smith-Kline Instruments, Syntex Corporation, and Genentech. She had a moment of revelation on a Highway 101 commute to work — it was time to give back in a different way. This jumpstarted a tour with the Peace Corps in Morocco, teaching English at a business university and working to develop a market for artisans. She continued to advise and mentor micro-businesses in developing countries in Africa such as Lesotho, Sudan, Malawi, Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda, women in the Middle East, and former weapons scientists in the former Soviet Union. Locally, she served on community-focused commissions, such as the City of Palo Alto Library Advisory Commission and the Human Relations Commission.
Jim Stinger, MBA, Ph.D., was a research engineer at Hewlett-Packard for more than 30 years, where his work in software development was awarded numerous patents which fostered the growth of “The HP Way.” His 2005 retirement allowed him to nurture other interests, such as watercolor painting, and to devote his time more fully to community service. He has tirelessly supported the YMCA of the Mid-Peninsula, the Challenge Learning Center, Avenidas, American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure, Palo Alto Community Child Care, the Society of West-Coast Artists San Francisco Chapter, and the Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto. His paintings have developed a fan following and are sought after at auctions held for philanthropic causes.
Valerie and Jim have two daughters and have lived in Palo Alto for 50 years.
On Sunday, May 19, from 3 to 5 pm, Avenidas will host a garden party in Palo Alto for the honorees, their families and friends, and members of the public who wish to attend. Proceeds from the party benefit Avenidas, a 501(c)(3) organization.
Since 1969, Avenidas services and programs have been helping older adults in the San Francisco mid-Peninsula area be as active, engaged, and healthy as possible. Annually, Avenidas serves nearly 52,000 encounters in two adult enrichment centers and one adult day care located in Palo Alto and Mountain View. Whether seniors require rides to a doctor’s office, counseling sessions, or technology assistance, or if they want to learn a new language, take an exercise class, or make new friends, Avenidas is here for them.
Michelle T. Shinseki