Jason Alabanza, a vice president at Richmond-based Mechanics Bank and manager of its Albany branch, spends a good chunk of his time on community issues, including serving on the board of the Albany Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed to improve the city's schools. Alabanza, who once aspired to be a teacher, notched 400 hours of community service last year.

Mechanics Bank recognized his efforts by naming Alabanza Community Partner of the Year at the E.M. Downer, Jr. Employee Recognition event, held April 24 during National Volunteer Week.

Alabanza is also active with the Rotary Club, volunteers annually at the Solano Stroll for the Solano Avenue Merchants Association, and helps with classroom activities for Junior Achievement.

Mechanics Bank, founded by the Downer family 107 years ago, encourages employee participation in the community and works with the online service VolunteerMatch to help them find opportunities.

WEST COUNTY NOTES: Author Du-Leesa Morris of San Pablo will be signing copies of her poetry book "Four-Dimensional Soul" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 11 at Well Grounded Tea & Coffee Bar, 6921 Stockton Ave. in El Cerrito.

  • A Fiddler on the Roof Sing-a-long will be held at 7 p.m. May 18 at 1501 Walnut St. to benefit theater company Stage Door Conservatory.


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  • The East Bay Bike Party returns to Richmond for the start of its monthly ride that meets at 7:30 p.m. May 10 at the Richmond BART station. Riders, who will be decorated for this month's theme "Rubik's Cube Rave," roll out at 8 p.m. for a ride from Richmond to Oakland. The rolling party is a colorful sight and sound to catch. Details: eastbaybikeparty.wordpress.com.

  • Irving Berlin, the composer who wrote such standards as "Alexander's Rag Time Band," "Always," "God Bless America," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "Cheek to Cheek" and "White Christmas," is the subject of a 125th birthday tribute from 2 to 4 p.m. May 19 at the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St. in Berkeley. The tribute by the 28th Jewish Music Festival in Berkeley is presented and narrated by musical theater historian Bonnie Weiss and will include rare clips of Berlin performing his songs and performances by those who helped popularize his works, including Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe.

    Tickets and details are online at http://tinyurl.com/cg77ptn.

  • Evie Groch of El Cerrito reports that "In the Cupboard," her entry in the San Mateo County Fair poetry contest, swept its division, winning first place and best of show. Read her poem on the West County blog at ibabuzz.com/westcounty.

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784