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Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club co-chairwomen Jill Hedgecock, far left, and Christa Fairfield congratulate all the winners of the Young Writers Contest, with branch president Elizabeth Tuck, second row, left.

Landscape makeover

We love to hear about examples of collaboration between the business community and nonprofit organizations in our community.

The Ygnacio Valley Library in Walnut Creek will receive a "landscape makeover" this summer, funded entirely by private and local business and community donations, and made possible by grants from the William A. Kerr Foundation and the Walnut Creek Library Foundation.

The library, also known as the Thurman G. Casey Library, will debut the results this fall, coinciding with Walnut Creek's centennial celebration. Landscape architect Michael D. Fotheringham volunteered the landscape plans, creating two paved outdoor patio spaces, relocating existing bicycle racks, planting more attractive, drought-resistant plants, and installing a water-efficient irrigation system.

Volunteers from Mormon Helping Hands, under the auspices of the local arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is providing much of the labor. And lending a hand with operating earthmoving equipment is contractor Cliff Beck, with Republic Services stepping in with donations of Dumpster and hauling services.

The library, which was funded in part by the Walnut Creek Library Foundation and was a first in public/private partnerships for a Contra Costa County library, enjoys more than 95,000 visits annually and circulates more than 300,000 items.

Conservation awards

John Muir Conservation Awards were recently presented to recipients at the John Muir Birthday-Earth Day celebration at his historic home in Martinez by JoAnne Dunec, president of the John Muir Association, and applauded by more than 2,400 guests.

Awardees include Darren Peterie of Sonoma Birding as Conservationist of the Year; Malcolm Sproul with the Conservation Legacy Award; Sheila Bolin of The Regal Swan Foundation with the Nonprofit Conservation Award; Tom Rusert of Sonoma Birding; Byron "Barry" Bey of the South Brunswick High School aquaculture program in North Carolina with the Environmental Education Conservation Award; and Simran Vedvyas for the Youth Environmental Conservation Award, who lives in Dubai and could not attend. Her award was presented in Dubai by JMA board member Cathy Ivers.

Relay for Life

Relay for Life, a program of the American Cancer Society, raises funds for cancer research. The relay is not a race or run. Teams form in advance to raise money and educate visitors on cancer awareness, and must keep at least one member on the track for 24 hours to signify that cancer never sleeps, and neither does the fight against cancer.

There is no registration fee for cancer survivors, and they do not need to raise funds to participate in the survivor ceremonies at the relay, to be held at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8, at Pleasant Hill Middle School, 1 Santa Barbara Road in Pleasant Hill.

Prior to the kickoff, a hearty breakfast will be served by the Pleasant Hill Lions Club, with cancer survivors as the special guests. The food is free, but donations to the relay will be welcomed.

Activities on Saturday will include exercise classes, goofy-themed laps, a kids' zone and live music.

A solemn luminaria ceremony at nightfall remembers those struck by cancer, as the track is lined by illuminated bags decorated in memory or honor of those battling or taken by cancer.

Throughout the night, teams will have members walking the track in solidarity with all who are affected in some way by cancer. The relay ends at 9 a.m. Sunday.

For more information, go to www.RelayForLife.org/PleasantHillCA, relayforlifeph@yahoo.com or call 925-944-4898.

Bridge to Equality

Day Labor and Civic Engagement program manager Nati Flores was surrounded by family, co-workers and friends at the Contra Costa Commission for Women Bridge to Equality Awards ceremony as she received the "Women Working for Justice" award for her work at the Michael Chavez Center (Monument Impact) in Concord.

Flores facilitates job connections, and provides training in worker safety and leadership development. She also works with community projects, including the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), resident groups, city staff, the police department, and business owners in facilitating lasting change and progress for our residents.

Monument Community Partnership merged with the Michael Chavez Center in Concord, and is now called Monument Impact, providing programs addressing health, career development, community engagement, technology and youth activities.

Young writers

There were 29 winners of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club Young Writers Contest, selected from more than 380 entries received from public, private schools and home-schoolers throughout Contra Costa County.

The talented middle school students received accolades and monetary awards for their efforts.

First-place winners received $100, second-place took $50, and third-place received $25 in the categories of short story, poetry, personal narrative/essay and most humorous submission.

  • Winners for the Betty Tenney Memorial Essay/Personal Narrative:

    Sixth grade

    First place -- Dalia Horta

    Second place -- Sierra Dabby

    Third place -- Jocelyn Berry

    Seventh grade

    First -- Emma Rus

    Second -- Katie Lyon

    Third -- Blaire Murphy

    Eighth grade

    First -- Kiki Immel

    Second -- Lauren Russell

    Third -- Yukta Rakesh.

  • Winners for poetry:

    Sixth grade

    First -- Liann Bielicki

    Second -- Julia Little

    Third -- Enya Pan

    Seventh grade

    First -- Isabel Hinchliff

    Second -- Elisa Fang

    Third -- Chinasa Mbanugo

    Eighth grade

    First and second -- Isabelle Jia

    Third -- Victor Wu

  • Winners in the short story category:

    Sixth grade

    First -- Grace Corrigan

    Second -- Asha Jotwani

    Third -- Liann Bielicki

    Seventh grade

    First -- Rivca Chaver

    Second -- Aaron Ouyang

    Third -- Emily Moreira

    Eighth grade

    First -- Benjamin Tan

    Second -- Ingrid Lam

    Third -- Alexandra Reincecke

  • Winners for humor:

    Sixth grade -- Morgan Micallef

    Seventh grade -- Hannah Brown

    No eighth grader

    Contest co-chairwoman Christa Fairfield gave a tutorial on story structure and used two of the first-place winning entries to illustrate how these short stories conformed to these necessary elements.

    Co-chairwoman Jill Hedgecock presented both the California Writers Club certificates and a special award from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, who sent her personal congratulations.

    Donations are now being accepted for next year's contest. If you would like to contribute, send your tax-deductible donation check to Harlan Hague, attention Young Writers Contest, P.O. Box 606, Alamo, CA 94507.

    'Turnaround Arts'

    Turnaround Arts, a public-private partnership launched by the White House in 2012, is designed to help failing schools develop art, so students are strategically engaged while they learn 21st century skills critical to their success. California has the largest statewide affiliate program, and Meadow Homes Elementary, in Concord, was chosen along with ten other California schools this year.

    Wine, dine with CASA

    CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for foster children) is raising needed funds from proceeds of the Postrio Wine & Microbrew Festival at 5:30 p.m. June 18, at 545 Post St., in San Francisco.

    It's a festive evening of wonderful wine, local microbrew, Postrio signature appetizers, live jazz and exciting silent auction.

    Tickets are $85. To purchase tickets, visit www.cccocasa.org.

    Send club and organization news, Scouting items, notices of awards and other submissions to goodneighbors@bayareanewsgroup.com.