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Milpitas Community Heroes celebrated at inaugural event

During a special June 11 meeting, the Milpitas City Council held its first ever Community Heroes Awards, honoring outstanding individuals and groups who have demonstrated exceptional service to the community. 

At the beginning of the year, Vice Mayor Evelyn Chua had proposed the idea of hosting a Community Heroes recognition event. Council approved of her idea last month, and the inaugural award ceremony was held in Council Chambers yesterday evening.  

Each councilmember was able to select one person or group for recognition… 

Councilmember Garry Barbadillo selected the Milpitas Rotary Club, a service organization that works to improve the community through various projects, events, and initiatives. Most recently, the club organized the event “A Rose For You,” a fundraiser to help combat human trafficking. “We applaud all your hard work. An organization like yours makes Milpitas a better place to live,” said Councilmember Barbadillo, after announcing his selection.  

Councilmember Garry Barabadillo (fourth from left) and Councilmember Hon Lien (sixth from left) with members of the Milpitas Rotary Club. Photo by The Milpitas Beat.

Councilmember Hon Lien chose the organization Hope for the Unhoused, which has done tremendous work in the community to provide support and resources to individuals experiencing homelessness. “Volunteers work tirelessly packing and delivering food to the unhoused, forming relationships and building trust. They have notably assisted over three dozen residents to find resources, services, and permanent housing,” said Councilmember Lien.  

Councilmember Hon Lien (right) with members from Hope for the Unhoused. Photo by The Milpitas Beat.

Councilmember Anthony Phan selected Marsha Grilli, who has served in the past as a Milpitas City Councilmember, Vice Mayor, and Board Trustee on the Milpitas Unified School District’s (MUSD) Board of Education. Phan spoke of how he was proud to serve on the Council alongside her. “Since leaving the council, she’s continued to dedicate her time and commitment toward advocacy and service for our community in the areas of homelessness, in the areas of mental health,” said Phan. Jennifer Lind accepted the certificate on Grilli’s behalf, as she was unable to attend the event. 

Councilmember Anthony Phan (left) with Jennifer Lind, who accepted the award for Marsha Grilli. Photo by The Milpitas Beat.

Vice Mayor Evelyn Chua recognized the Green Thumb Gardening Club, which is the oldest club in Milpitas, having been founded in 1956. The Green Thumb Gardening Club comes together to promote gardening and horticulture in the community. “In the years past, we’ve planted trees here in the city. We’ve enjoyed doing what we can. We’ve planted plants at the library during Christmas and have been able to donate to Boy Scouts and many organizations,” said Green Thumb Gardening Club President Valerie Meisner, who has been a member of the club for the past 20 years. 

Members of the Green Thumb Garden Club with the Milpitas City Council. Photo by The Milpitas Beat.

Mayor Carmen Montano selected Marielena Acevedo, who has been a local business owner in Milpitas for the past decade. “Marielena regularly donates food to various groups and donates money to the Milpitas High School boosters and St. John’s the Baptist Church, where she also volunteers. She takes pride in her restaurant, The Best Sandwiches, and has been an example for other businesses with her beautification efforts on Main Street,” said Mayor Carmen Montano to the audience.  

Marielena Acevedo (left) with Mayor Carmen Montano. Photo by The Milpitas Beat.

After the event, Vice Mayor Chua told The Beat, “It was very exciting to see one of my initiatives come alive and be successful. It was truly a great way to recognize citywide community heroes.” 


Paid for by Evelyn Chua for Milpitas City Council FPPC#1470209spot_img
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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