PALO ALTO—It’s not often that a bicycling advocate, a psychiatric nurse, a housing administrator, a novelist, a judge and a high school teacher are honored at the same time and place. But the did just that Sunday at a reception at their studio to kick off Local Heroes Week.
Each evening this week a video interview of one of the five heroes will be televised on Cable Channel 30 at 8:00 PM.
Monday’s story is that of bicycling advocate and former Palo Alto City Council member Ellen Fletcher. During 2009 she bought no gas and simply bicycled wherever she needed to go.
Growing up in England during World War II, Fletcher observed bicycling as the primary means of transportation. As a Palo Alto resident in the 70s she found bicycling to be a great solution to the problems of increasing gas prices and decreasing use of the Southern Pacific’s commuter rail service (now Caltrain). She convinced SP to attract more riders by allowing bicycles to be transported with the passengers. The concept of the bike boulevard as a thoroughfare where bikes are preferred was successfully introduced and Bryant Street has signs calling it the “Ellen Fletcher Bicycle Boulevard.”
Dan Wu’s story will air on Tuesday. He was a software engineer until his friend Eileen developed schizophrenia. At that point he quit his job and started learning about care-giving at NAMI California.He soon went further and decided to become a psychiatric nurse. He completed training for his new profession and joined the staff of El Camino Hospital where he has received awards for his proficiency.
Eileen made great progress through medication and therapy. Dan and Eileen are now married and are mental health advocates in the community.
Wednesday we’ll learn about Kate Young, who as Director of Resident Services for the Palo Alto Housing Corporation has created a one-stop shop of affordable housing services.
“People who live in affordable housing are an asset to our community,” she said.
One of the thriving programs that Young promotes is DreamCatchers, which provides tutoring and mentoring to middle school students.
Bardi Rosman Koodrin’s story of survival and inspiration will be televised on Thursday. She suffered chronic pain associated with—among other illnesses— melanoma, migraine, shingles, and a detached retina. Nevertheless, she learned to use a computer and write three novels. She wrote “” for San Bruno Patch.
Koodrin credits her son for being her catalyst in learning to live in the moment.
Friday’s hero, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Eugene M. Hyman, was in New Zealand Sunday. His video interview shows his unprecedented program for early intervention for young people who have battered or otherwise acted violently against family members. The program of counseling, support and therapy was developed on Hyman’s own time.
Robert Freeman’s story to be aired on Saturday is that of a Los Altos High School social studies teacher who responded to cynical students by challenging them to contribute just one dollar to make the world a better place. Soon all 1,700 students of LAHS donated money, and then students of four other high schools did the same. With $9,000 they financed the building of a school in Kenya that serves 45 students.
The project became known as One Dollar For Life (ODFL) and built additional schools in Kenya, Malawi, Nicaragua, and Indonesia. ODFL organized 22 high schools to support earthquake relief in Haiti. Freeman says the “Kenyan kids were blown away by our support.” He feels we can do more as these schools cost just about $10,000 to build while our country spends $39 billion each year on make-up.
Louise Pencavel of the Media Center, who interviewed the heroes, said this is the fifth year that the Media Center has honored local heroes and that in the fall there will be a call for nominations to choose the heroes of 2012.