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Community members gather in the Rotunda builiding for the 5th annual Hometown Heroes Award Ceremony on Thursday, March 14, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. The event honored 27 individuals who make a positive impact in Bay Area communities. (Aric Crabb/Staff)

OAKLAND -- Tom Low gave up a six-figure salary to join an Oakland nonprofit that brings education, clean water and health care to impoverished villages.

John Corpus of Alamo founded a golf tournament that has raised more than $1.2 million for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. The foundation funds research for a cure for the disorder, which his teenage daughter, Samantha Corpus, has.

Tim Jones of Newark is a tireless volunteer for the Tri-City area, working with the police department on graffiti removal and neighborhood crime prevention.

Twenty-eight Bay Area "Hometown Heroes" were honored Thursday night for helping turn their cities and towns into better places to live, work and play -- for everyone. Often, these are the type of folks who always put others first. But at the fifth annual Hometown Heroes ceremony at the Oakland Rotunda on Thursday night it was their turn to be in the spotlight.

There was catered food, free drinks, pats on the back and praise from Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. "All of you who have been contributing your energy and your time, (you don't do it) for money or for recognition, but because you care about your fellow" people, Carson said. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was on the program to speak but was not at the event during the speeches.

Under a partnership between the Bay Area News Group and Comcast, stories about Hometown Heroes appear every other week in the company's newspapers and on Comcast On Demand. The stories were enlarged and hung around the Rotunda on Thursday night.

"I want you to take a look around the room at all the stories. It's inspiring to read them again after editing and publishing them throughout the year," said BANG Metro Editor Katherine Rowlands.

Rowlands said the stories "resonate with our audience."

"This project has struck a chord with the communities we serve," she said.

The 2012 Hometown Heroes are: John Corpus, Alamo; Brittney Gougeon, Antioch; Johnny Rodriguez, Brentwood; Skip Weinstock and Robert Jeha, El Sobrante; Greg Galati and Frank Goulart, Hayward; Erika Gruidl, Livermore; Bob Kelly and Doug Stewart, Martinez; Geraldine Woolfork, Tom Low, Helena Jack and Anca Mosoiu, Oakland; Tim Jones, Newark; Torry and Christine Hines, Pittsburg; Claire Williams, Pleasanton; Antwon Cloird and Joe and Maxine Fisher, Richmond; James Wogan, San Leandro; Jun Simundo and Daniel Tanita, San Pablo; Nancy Clarkson and Aaron Negherbon, San Ramon; Pascal Kaplan and Peggy Thomas, Walnut Creek.

Reach Kristin J. Bender at kbender@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/kjbender.