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Youths, Citizens Earn 2014 Nominations
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Youth of the Year, Citizen of the Year and Business of the Year for 2014 will be announced at a dinner on Saturday, January 24, 2015, at the Riverbank Community Center.

With the selection vote complete, the committee has announced the names of the nominees for both Citizen of the Year and Youth of the Year. Business of the Year is voted on by the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce members.

Nominated for Youth of the Year for 2014 are Enochs High School seniors Alyssa Herrera, Laci Rakestraw and Riverbank High School senior Stephanie Zarate, all of Riverbank.

Citizen of the Year nominees include residents Ramon Bermudez, Sylvia Jimenez and Jimmy Rubio.

Those putting forward the nominee’s names were enthusiastic about their recommendations:


Citizen of the Year nominees:

Ramon Bermudez “is well known in the Riverbank community for being a helper, a spokesperson and someone who can get things done.”

He is involved in local activities and programs, including teaching free English classes. An active member of St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church, Bermudez volunteers with Senior Meals on Wheels and the Senior Brunch on Fridays.

He encourages seniors to vote to make a difference in the community. A Vietnam veteran, Bermudez assists other veterans with their communication of special needs and circumstances. He drives seniors to doctor’s appointments, shopping or just checks up on them.


Sylvia Jimenez first got involved with the Love Riverbank project with her husband, Mario, several years ago. With that effort, noted her nomination, “she did an excellent job and was asked to be a leader of the project in 2013, then again in 2014.”

Jimenez jumped in with both feet running, recruiting a large group of volunteers for the many projects to give back to the community. Among them, cleaning up the Riverbank Community Gardens, spreading bark on the walking areas and building a fence. Others worked at the Riverbank Branch of the Library and at Jacob Myers Park.

She coordinated volunteers young and old, including members of service clubs, church groups and others. She is “always ready to do anything that is asked of her, and always with a smile on her face.”


Jimmy Rubio “believes in being active in his immediate neighborhood and initiates block parties that are geared toward entertaining neighborhood children. He has a party rental business from which he donates time and equipment toward these activities.”

Rubio is a volunteer coach in the Riverbank Youth Softball Association for several years and coaches in the Youth Soccer League. He also volunteers in his daughter’s class at Crossroads Elementary School.

“Where many are overwhelmed by the workload they contend with on a daily basis,” the nomination reads, “Jimmy divides what spare time he has giving selflessly to the community.”


Youth of the Year nominees:

Stephanie Zarate “is a promising young woman who is actively engaged in the community through Riverbank High School, church and her personal projects.”

Zarate steps up to get involved when there is a need. She would be the first in her family to attend college, planning to study International Business and Public Relations.

She is involved in the Love Literacy Project, collecting books for junior high and high school students in Guadalajara, Mexico to support their ESL program. She also is involved in the “Bruins Boutique,” assisting and organizing donated clothes, shoes and other items that are donated by the community and distributed to students with needs.

She also is involved with RHS Drama, FHA and the Key Club.

“Throughout high school, she has maintained an excellent GPA, qualifying for CSF every semester.”


Laci Rakestraw “is involved with many activities on campus at Enochs High School and in the community” according to her nomination.

Rakestraw has been in the Enochs Marching Band for four years, playing trombone, and Jazz Band for the past two years. She also plays the vibraphone. Because of her love for Japanese culture, she is involved in the Asian Pop Club, Anime and Manga Club and the Game Club.

“Her good grades and involvement in school activities are impressive, but even more impressive is her dedication to her disabled mother,” who suffers from seizures and severe migraines.

Her nomination further stated: “Laci is able to maintain her school work and activities while helping care for her mother.

“She has a maturity and wisdom that is well beyond her years.”


Alyssa Herrera “intends to become a Registered Nurse in Pediatrics after serving in the United States Marine Corps” her nomination noted.

In a PowerPoint presentation prepared for Enochs High School, Herrera created a recruitment tool to encourage other students to join the Corps. She demonstrated the benefits of joining to learn a career and living skills. In its preparation, she discovered that the Marine Corps helps in the community with its “Toys for Tots” drive and also feeds the homeless.

She volunteered at the Farmers Market and was a member of the PALS program, a buddy system for students in the Special Education program. She helped them express their feelings in drawings and to feel they were a part of Enochs High School.

In addition, Herrera has maintained a 3.5 GPA while working part time.


Now that City Hall has reopened after the Christmas and New year’s holiday break, tickets to the awards dinner are available there and at the Riverbank Historical Museum during its regular hours. Tickets also are available from any member of the Citizen of the Year Committee.

This acknowledgement was first awarded in 1962 to Bruce Blakely, Man of the Year. Now known as Citizen of the Year, it is in its 52nd year of recognizing volunteerism in Riverbank.

The Youth of the Year will receive a scholarship to assist with their continued education.