"Unsung heroes" are people who make a substantial, yet unrecognized, contribution to our society. Pleasant Hill is fortunate to have many "unsung heroes" who work behind the scenes, yet have significant impact on our lives.

They do so not for any acknowledgment or title, but simply because they believe giving back to their community the right thing to do.

They walk among us with little or no notoriety, but continue to leave their track wherever they go. We see evidence of their work in our schools, our neighborhoods, and in those they've helped.

In this column, I'd like to recognize a few of these special people who give so much and ask nothing in return.

  • Ken Housfeld is one of these unsung heroes. You may not know who Ken is, but his impact on our community has been significant. Ken found a cause that needed a champion, and "ran" with an idea -- the Pleasant Hill Relay for Life.

    In its short existence, this annual event has become a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and an opportunity for our community to come together in a special way to help cancer victims and remember survivors.

    This 24-hour relay brings people from divergent backgrounds together in Pleasant Hill for an important and special cause. Thanks, Ken.

  • When it comes to the education of our children, no one has done more work behind the scenes than Cindy Rubin. Without recognition or fanfare, Cindy led the fight to allow all Pleasant Hill students to attend College Park High School.

    She has been a leading force behind the Pleasant Hill Education Initiative. It seems that she has championed every effort to improve the quality of education in our local schools. Thanks, Cindy.

  • I can't mention education without talking about another leader in our community, Kelly St. Germain. Kelly is chair of the city's Education Commission and an active parent volunteer in local schools.

    Kelly's energy is infectious. Her willingness to serve in so many capacities has made our schools better places to educate our children. Thanks, Kelly.

    Not all of our unsung heroes live in Pleasant Hill.

  • While David Deutscher lives in a neighboring community, you'd never know it from the things he's done to make Pleasant Hill a better place to live. David is extremely generous with his resources and his time.

    He has been a devoted supporter of Pleasant Hill's YMCA -- the Irwin Deutscher Family YMCA -- which is named after his father. Through his efforts, the YMCA has been modernized and refurbished, making it an outstanding facility that teaches fitness and healthy living to people of all ages. Thanks, David.

  • The Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce has undergone a significant metamorphosis over the last few years. Working behind the scenes to improve the chamber and our business community is Judith Sosnowski.

    I have yet to attend a chamber event, be it a mixer, a ribbon cutting, or business meeting, where Judith has not played a significant role.

    But her biggest contribution to our community is through her tireless efforts as chair of the annual Art, Jazz, & Wine Festival Committee. This event brings thousands of visitors to our city and is an important source of civic pride and enjoyment. Thanks, Judith.

  • We've all become more environmentally conscious in the last several years. One of the people responsible for the "greening" of Pleasant Hill is Tamara Helfer.

    Tamara is responsible for the excellent composting and organic gardening program at Sequoia Elementary School where they have diverted almost three tons of food waste from the landfill since 2012. She is also leading the Pleasant Hill Education Initiative's ecology awareness program.

    The lessons she teaches our students through organic gardening and composting will make the younger generation better stewards of our precious environment. Thanks, Tamara.

  • Pleasant Hill is fortunate to have a wonderful couple in our midst, Matt and Olivia Lovett. Matt and Olivia spent countless hours working with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, helping them become the leaders of tomorrow.

    Their volunteer efforts extend to our schools and just about any project worth doing in Pleasant Hill, including the annual Girl Scout Food Bank Drive.

    They do so without any pomp or recognition. They believe helping young people is an important thing to do. Thanks, Matt and Olivia.

    There are many other "unsung heroes" in our community. I'm sorry I do not have enough space in this column to recognize more of them. But they know who they are.

    Even though they don't do it for the recognition, next time you see someone helping others in our community simply because it's the right thing to do, please thank them. I know I will.

    Harris is the mayor of Pleasant Hill. Email him at columns@bayareanewsgroup.com.