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EventsAssemblymember Kansen Chu Honors Community Heroes

Assemblymember Kansen Chu Honors Community Heroes

India Community Center’s (ICC) auditorium was buzzing with warmth and excitement this past Thursday evening (July 12).

One hundred members of the community were honored for their leadership, service, and dedication at Assemblymember Kansen Chu’s 2018 Community Heroes event.

Among those who received recognition from the 25th Assembly district — which includes Milpitas, Fremont, San Jose, Newark, and Santa Clara — were volunteers, educators, elected officials, students, entrepreneurs, activists, and sports coaches.

Before an audience of hundreds, the honorees took to the stage one-by-one to receive a medal and certificate, before taking a photo with the Assemblyman and his wife, Daisy Chu.

Denny Weisgerber, who is a Korean War Veteran and serves on Milpitas’ Veterans Commission, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

“This is the fourth annual Community Heroes event. I started this when I was on the San Jose City Council. Although I have many able staff and I’m always trying to stay connected to the community…there are so many people doing so much good work….and I really need all the nominators’ help to identify them. So first off, thank you to all the nominators for identifying our heroes. We’re honoring them and celebrating them,” said Assemblymember Chu at the top of the event.

Here’s a list of individuals from Milpitas who were recognized as Community Heroes that night:

Cheryl Jordan, for all her exemplary work as Superintendent of Milpitas Unified School District, where she creates a strong and positive foundation for the 10,000 students who attend school in Milpitas.

Frank De Smidt, who tirelessly devotes himself to serving Milpitas through his work in the Milpitas Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce (both of which he has served as President of in the past).

Gopi Godhwani and her family, for being the founders of the India Community Center, which has brought culture and aliveness to Milpitas. Godhwani also serves as Chair of ICC’s senior programs.

Kelly Yip Chuan, who inspires through her work as an Ambassador and Board Member for the Chamber of Commerce, and being a part of the Milpitas Rotary Club; she has also dedicated herself to serving on Burnett Elementary School’s PTA (and was a past President).

Ken Cooper, who serves as an Assistant Chief at the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department, and is also involved in the Santa Clara County Training Office Association.

Larry Ciardella, who is deeply engaged in the community, and serves as President of the Milpitas Rotary Club, as well as an Assistant Chief and Captain for the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

Marguerite Epps, who has volunteered around 12,000 hours for the past 30 years at both Randall and Sinnott Elementary Schools.

Michelle Mandeville, a teacher at Burnett Elementary School, who strives to create a positive school culture for the students there.

Robert Brewer, who volunteers with the Junior Giants sports program in Milpitas.

The Sunnyhills Tenants Association, which includes the following individuals: Lisa Down, Phan Lam, William Au, Terry Naylor, Holly Hang Do, Cristina Olizaba, and Hien La. These individuals worked tirelessly to save the Sunnyhills Apartments, an affordable housing community, from being demolished last  Fall.

Thelma Batilo, who is a dedicated volunteer, and also serves as Chair of Milpitas’ Community Advisory Commission.

Vicki Young, who is a member of the Milpitas Emergency Preparedness Commission, a contributor for the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project, and a community organizer.

Victor San Vicente, who is a dedicated volunteer for the Milpitas Chamber of Commerce, Milpitas Rotary Club, and the Lockheed Retirement Association.


Frank De Smidt, receiving his medal.


Superintendent Cheryl Jordan (middle) posing with Daisy Chu (left) and Assemblymember Kansen Chu (right).


Ken Cooper and Larry Ciardella



Kelly Yip Chuan, about to receive her medal from Daisy Chu.


Victor San Vicente with Assemblymember Kansen Chu.


Maurgerite Epps (center) with Daisy Chu (left) and Assemblymember Kansen Chu (right).


Members from the Sunnyhills Tenants Association go up to receive their medals.


Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro
Rhoda Shapiro is the winner of a 2022 Golden Quill Award for her Education journalism. She works as a journalist and media consultant in the Bay Area. She has written for both the Tri-City Voice and the Mercury News, and is the founder of Chi Media Company, which works mostly with nonprofit organizations and educational entities to elevate their marketing and communication platforms. Rhoda is also the author of “Fierce Woman: Wake up your Badass Self” and “Magic Within: Womb-Centered Wisdom to Realize the Power of Your Sacred Feminine Self.” Her YouTube channel features practices in yoga, meditation, and women’s empowerment. Rhoda is The Milpitas Beat’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief.


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