A year ago I was shocked to learn that I'd been selected for a Juanita Haugen Community of Character award. Having served on the Pleasanton school board with Haugen, who passed away in 2007, I was honored to receive the prestigious award along with Tom Fox, Pam Yeaw and the Rotary Club of Pleasanton.

Sponsored each year by Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative, the award honors local folks and organizations who exhibit outstanding volunteer service and who promote the character traits of responsibility, compassion, self-discipline, honesty, respect and responsibility.

This year's recipients are Brad Hirst, Emily Scholz, Bob Williams and the congregation of Lynnewood United Methodist Church. They were celebrated at a luncheon yesterday at Ruby Hill Golf Club.

In this short column it's impossible to list the many accomplishments of these amazing people, but here's some of what I know:

I met Brad Hirst in 1985 when I first arrived in Pleasanton. I was impressed with his warmth and professionalism and how he seemed to know everyone in town.

In fact, he did know everyone in town, because he'd moved to Pleasanton in 1967. Since then, whether as a member of the General Plan review committee, the planning commission, the Rotary club or the chamber of commerce, he has logged countless volunteer hours to make Pleasanton a better community.

Like Brad, Emily Scholz makes a meaningful difference through her volunteer work, in her case with Valley Humane Society. Emily devotes many hours every week to this animal welfare organization where she trains front office volunteers, matches people with pets, serves as an adoption counselor and writes grants.

According to Valley Humane Society Chief Executive Melanie Sadek, Emily embodies an "unwavering dedication" to ensuring the success of this worthwhile organization.

Another recipient is Bob Williams. Best known as the conductor of the Pleasanton Community Concert Band -- his role for 32 years -- Bob helps preserve traditional band music at civic celebrations while fostering our community's love of music.

In fact, Bob helped establish the concert band in 1975 for the 1976 United States Bicentennial Celebration. Starting music lessons at age 5, he went on to earn his doctorate at the Eastman School of Music, later teaching music in Oakland for 22 years.

Today Pleasanton is fortunate to benefit from Bob's musical knowledge, talent and dedication. The next time you hear the band at the Fourth of July celebration in Lions Wayside Park, or attend a seasonal concert at the Firehouse Arts Center or come to listen at a Memorial Day or Veterans Day celebration, take a moment to shake hands with the conductor and offer a heartfelt "thank you."

Finally, Lynnewood United Methodist Church is a deserving recipient for so many reasons. Over the years, church members have volunteered many hours with Open Heart Kitchen, Axis Community Health, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Tri-Valley Haven, and many other nonprofits. This church truly makes a difference in people's lives.

Congratulations to all of this year's honorees. Juanita Haugen would be proud.

Contact Jim Ott at jimott@sbcglobal.net.