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Riverbank Volunteers Honored At Annual Dinner
Riverbank High School student Stephanie Zarate is named the 2014 Youth of the Year at the Community Awards ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Community Center. She and the other two nominees will receive scholarships to continue their educational pursuits. Ric McGinnis/The News

Youth of the Year, Business of the Year and the 52nd Citizen of the Year were honored at a dinner on Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Riverbank Community Center.

The Youth and Citizen of the Year awards were announced by the MOY/COY Committee, made up of previous honorees, while the Business of the Year was announced by the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce.

Sylvia Jimenez was named Citizen of the Year for 2014. She was honored for her work with the Love Riverbank project. She and her husband Mario first got involved several years ago, and she was the leader of the local project in 2013 and 2014, according to nomination documents.

Jimenez has recruited a large group of volunteers for the many projects to give back to the community. Community Gardens, the Riverbank Branch Library and Jacob Myers Park are among the many entities benefitted by these volunteer efforts.

Other COY nominees included Ramon Bermudez and Jimmy Rubio.

Riverbank Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Van Houten presented the Business of the Year 2014 award to German Chavez, owner of Antigua Event Center in downtown Riverbank.

The business honoree is selected by the membership of the Chamber. Other nominated businesses included TSW Financial, Windmill Leisure and Group Travel, Prime Shine Car Wash and Community Trust Credit Union.

The Youth of the Year “is a promising young woman who is actively engaged in the community through Riverbank High School, church and her personal projects,” according to her nomination. Stephanie Zarate was named Youth of the Year for 2014.

One of her programs is the Love Literacy Project, involving collecting books for junior high and high school students in Guadalajara, Mexico, to support English as a Second Language program. She also is involved the Bruin Boutique, arranging and organizing donated clothes, shoes and other items from the community that are distributed to students in need at Riverbank High School.

Other Youth of the Year nominees included Laci Rakestraw and Alyssa Herrera, both students of Enochs High School in Modesto who reside in the southwest portion of Riverbank that is part of the Sylvan School District.

All students nominated receive scholarships to assist with their continued education.

With a theme of ‘Celebrating 52 Years of Volunteers in Riverbank,’ the Community Awards Dinner highlight Saturday evening was the announcement of the Citizen of the Year for 2014.

The MOY/COY Committee is so named because it began as ‘Man of the Year’ with the selection of Bruce Blakely in 1962. In 1967, Glenda Alpers was chosen, and in 1972, Betty Silva, so, at some point, it became necessary to broaden the name of the committee to include a more modern ‘Citizen of the Year.’ The combination name MOY/COY honors both groups’ past and future efforts to promote volunteerism with the community.