For many years, Diablo has hosted an annual ceremony to bring our community together and recognize outstanding volunteers in the East Bay. Last year’s award recipients—Urooj Kazmi, Kathy Layman, Lisa McNaney, Sunny Singh, and Malcolm Sproul— were nominated and chosen by a panel of judges representing local businesses and philanthropic organizations, and were featured in Diablo’s December issue. Fortunately, the pandemic did not put a stop to the celebration, as the 2020 Threads of Hope Awards went virtual. All five honorees received their awards beforehand and were able to say a few words from the comfort of their own homes. Jessica Aguirre of NBC 11 News was mistress of ceremonies.
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In November, the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC) put on Best of the Bankhead, a virtual benefit hosted by LVPAC executive director Chris Carter. Throughout the “fancy dress optional” evening, there were cameo video performances by popular artists such as pianist Jon Nakamatsu and ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro. Dinner and wine were delivered to the homes of the guests.
Oakland-based director Rodrigo Reyes has taken his cinematic vision around the world, most recently during virtual film festivals. His latest film, 499, is a visual poem about a 16th-century Spanish conquistador who washes up on the shores of contemporary Mexico and sees the effects of colonialism. In honor of his critically acclaimed body of work, Reyes will receive the Non-Fiction Vanguard Award at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival (held February 4 through 21).
At John Muir Health Foundation’s seventh annual signature fundraiser, guests virtually honored frontline health-care workers during the time of COVID-19 while enjoying a preordered dinner and silent and live auctions. All proceeds went toward John Muir’s response to the pandemic.
The East Bay SPCA held a virtual event to raise funds for shelter animals, and invited pet lovers and bakers of all skill levels to whip up some festive holiday treats. The program included pet safety tips from the Behavior and Training team, a baking demo from Oakland’s Angel Cakes, a raffle prize from Cinnaholic Berkeley, a virtual tour of the Oakland clinic, and a lot more fun. There were over 50 attendees, and all registered participants received an ebooklet filled with recipes from local bakeries and staff of the East Bay SPCA.
Chef Rashad Armstead looks to his past as he builds a future.
Live from the Monument Crisis Center, and hosted by dedicated volunteer Yno Gonzalez, Heartfelt for the Holidays brought the community together and advocated for helping those in need during these challenging times. The virtual extravaganza began with holiday cocktail and mocktail mixing and raised money through donations and auctions. The center is a nonprofit that provides food, education, and referrals.