Local residents touted for creating peace

Dolores Villalon, left, was honored for her continued work with the Youth Alliance with a 2013 California Peace Award. Here she is pictured in 2008 at Youth Alliance open house.

At National Night Out Tuesday evening two local residents were honored as peace advocates in San Benito County. Assemblyman Luis Alejo selected Dolores Villalon and Robert Scattini to receive the 2013 California Peace Award along with three other residents or groups from his assembly district.
Residents of the 30th Assembly District were asked to submit names of individuals throughout the area that have gone above and beyond to promote peace. Nominations for the California Peace Award were accepted throughout July for individuals with a record of volunteerism and noteworthy accomplishments in their efforts to stop violence and create a safer community. Recipients must have had, over the past year, significantly contributed to the promotion of peace in the community.
“Each year when the nomination period opens for the California Peace Award, dozens of individuals and their hard work is brought to light,” said Alejo, in a press release. “It’s amazing to read about the dedication and commitment people have for their communities. I respect and value the work peace promoters invest to make our neighborhoods safer.”
The local awards were given out during National Night Out, a national event that brings community resources together to promote safe neighborhoods. The San Benito County Sheriff’s Department coordinated the event, which included resource booths, free hot dogs and entertainment for families to enjoy.
Villalon was recognized for her work with the Youth Alliance neighborhood center at the Rancho Park Apartments where she coordinates an after school program for elementary school students and a drop zone program for middle school and high school students. According to a biography submitted with her nomination, “she provides her time and energy running after-school programs, preteen life skills classes, a cooking support group for mothers known as Las Comadres, and various family activities with the goal of preventing violence and creating a safe, welcoming connection to adult and youth mentors.”
Villalon has worked in high-need neighborhoods for the past 10 years and has been a key organizer in neighborhood forums on gangs, youth safety and resident issues. She volunteers her time in the evenings and on weekends in order to raise valuable contributions to keep the Youth Alliance neighborhood center open.
Diane Ortiz, the executive director of the Youth Alliance, shared some comments about Villalon’s work.
“Even after our most recent drive by shooting, Ms. Dolores offered comfort and connected counseling resources to families traumatized and afraid,” Ortiz wrote in an email. “She is a mentor to many young people who affectionately call her Ms. D and its evidenced when they return from high school or college to greet her with a hug and a smile. She is the epitome of a peacemaker because she challenges hate with love.”
Scattini served in the field of law enforcement for more than 52 years with positions including California Highway Patrol officer and San Benito County constable/marshal, sheriff’s deputy and sheriff. He is full committed to improving his community and served as mayor of Hollister from 2007-08 and as vice mayor from 2012 to present. He also served two terms on the Hollister City Council, was chair of the San Benito County planning commission and has 41 years of experience as a member of the local chamber of commerce.
Other recipients of the award this year include Police Chief Eric C. Sills, of Soledad, Claudia Rossi, a Morgan Hill Unified School District trustee, and the Watsonville Police Activities League.

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