July 1, 2002

WITH GRACE, HUMILITY and her usual sense of humor, Patricia Stillman, rode in a carriage pulled by a bicyclist in the Alameda County Fair Parade on June 22. Sunol's 2002 Community Hero shared her conveyance with Dublin Community Hero Richard Guarienti, and reported with a laugh, "We're both environmentalists and we enjoyed the fact that we were riding in a non-polluting vehicle."

The Fair's Community Hero Program requires that each nominee exhibit a community-minded spirit, be actively involved in community programs, illustrate great strength or ability in a civic/service effort, commit self-sacrificing acts for the benefit of others, and be admired for his or her achievements. Local service organizations - in our case, the Sunol Business Guild - make nomination forms available to residents, and nominations are sent directly to the Fair Board.

Pat fulfills the selection criteria in so many ways. A social and environmental activist since her college days at Syracuse University in the late 1940's, community activism is Pat's life work. In 1989, when a fire devastated Sunol's downtown, she helped raise money for several people who lost their businesses. When a 2,640 home development was proposed for Pleasanton ridge, Pat went door-to door with flyers in Sunol, inviting everyone to a town meeting. When a sign-in sheet was passed around the room, Save Our Sunol (SOS) was born.

Thanks to the dedication of activists like Pat and her colleagues in Pleasanton, voters stopped the development project. Under her leadership, SOS championed and won the restoration of the Willis Polk Water Temple, damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake. Pat was also a member of the committee that drafted the language for Alameda County Measure D, the successful open space initiative.

She regularly attends meetings at the tri-valley, county, Bay Area, and state levels, and works at the Sunol polls every election. With support from Bart, her husband of over 50 years, and their beloved dog, Pudder, Pat is dedicated to keeping the Sunol Valley an agricultural and environmental gem for future generations to love and enjoy.

The Fair's Community Heroes were also recognized at a special awards ceremony at the Fairgrounds after the parade. Alameda County Fair Association CEO Rick Pickering introduced the heroes and told of their accomplishments, and Livermore Postmaster Bernard Gilliam presented each one a pin bearing the Post Office's new stamp honoring the heroes of September 11. They each also received a commemorative plaque and had their pictures taken with the parade's Grand Marshal, Bay Area baseball great and humanitarian, Joe Morgan.

Many Sunolians may not be aware that Pat has been an enthusiast baseball fan longer than she's been an activist. I suspect the hug she got from Joe Morgan was the perfect finish to an exciting day. Thank you Pat, for all you do for Sunol.

POSTAL THEFT ALERT: There have been several reports lately of mailbox break-ins in Sunol. Such theft can be a very costly nuisance. One resident reports that a box of new checks was stolen from her mailbox and more than 25 checks were forged and cashed before she discovered what had happened. Hopefully, after filling out a pile of forms and making dozens of phone calls, she will get her money back - a stressful process with no guarantees.

The deputy sheriffs she spoke to stated that identity theft is the number one crime in our area and recommended using locking boxes or Post Office boxes, and shredding all mail that includes personal information - especially credit card offers. Sunol Post Mistress Joan Hall is very concerned about the problem and seconded the recommendation to install locking mailboxes. She has one on display in the Sunol Post Office that sells for about $20 in hardware stores and invites Sunolians in to check it out.

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