Community Service Awards to recognize individuals, organizations for helping city through crisis

A community news publisher, a bar owner, a restaurateur, a tireless arts promoter, a pair of tenacious volunteers, and two organizations that helped lead people to health during the pandemic will be honored next month.

A common theme can be found in the six people and two organizations being honored by the city’s Human Rights Commission for outstanding contributions to the community at a Feb. 14 ceremony. Most are being singled out for helping the community deal with the pandemic.

“This year’s eight outstanding honorees significantly enhanced the quality of life in Palm Springs when the community was in crisis managing the pandemic,” the city wrote in announcing the honorees, noting their “outstanding contributions promoting and protecting human rights, social progress, better standards of life, and equality for all individuals.”

Those who will be honored during the Community Service Awards include a community news publisher, a bar owner, a restaurateur, a tireless arts promoter, a pair of tenacious volunteers, and two organizations that helped lead people to health during the pandemic. They are:

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Ann Sheffer

Sheffer is recognized for providing leadership to support the Palm Springs effort to invest in local arts during the COVID-19 crisis. With the belief that arts build social cohesion and address social equity, racial awareness, and civic engagement, Ann’s leadership with the City of Palm Springs Public Arts Commission helped our city overcome the COVID crises. Artists are rightfully looked to as second responders in times of crisis. They support mental and physical health outcomes and community resilience and rebuilding.

Vaccinate Inland Empire (VAXIE)

VAXIE is a volunteer, grassroots organization that has helped more than 78,000 people since February 2021 navigate the always-changing COVID-19 vaccination system in Southern California. VAXIE was founded to address the need to provide equal vaccine access for all.

Founders Rhea Hoffman and Calista Vassios saw that senior citizens struggled to navigate online appointment systems, and undocumented and homeless communities didn’t know where to get vaccinated without being turned away. VAXIE provides a free service and assists qualified individuals, especially those with work and time constraints, mobility issues, and those without computers, in scheduling vaccination appointments, including booster vaccinations. What started as two friends concerned about most at-risk neighbors has turned into a growing organization with more than 25 volunteers.

Chad Gardner

Gardner is recognized for his giving spirit and support of the community in good times and through the complex COVID-19 crisis. Through donations, partnerships, and special programming at his restaurants, Chad has positively impacted the community through numerous nonprofit charitable organizations. His philanthropic support continued in the pandemic crisis, making a measurable impact on those nonprofits and the clients they served. He is a for-profit entrepreneur committed to helping local businesses and the region’s underserved citizens thrive.

Chad managed through the COVID-19 challenges and helped address civic issues and the community’s needs. He served on the board of Main Street Palm Springs and the Mayor’s COVID-19 Business Transition & Re-entry Task Force.

Nikki Stone

Stone is recognized for being a stellar example of what it means to give back to your community through volunteerism. To give of your time, energy, and talent, with no expectation of recognition or compensation, has been a guiding value for Nikki for her entire adult life.

While she maintains a belief that volunteers are the heart and soul of our community, she has set an example with 10 years of service with Volunteer Palm Springs — an organization that partners with local nonprofits and community organizations to help promote Palm Springs through volunteer efforts which will help make our community stronger. With longstanding ties to the community, Nikki volunteers with at-risk teens, sits on the Board of Well in the Desert and participates in local organizations and human rights
efforts. Her volunteerism has helped improve quality of life.

Jimmy Boegle

Boegle is recognized for aligning business goals and initiatives with causes and social issues that benefit the broader community during a time of significant challenges for him personally.

As founder, editor, and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent, he is committed to keeping the community informed of the pandemic science and data from the medical community. Jimmy is credited for keeping honest, ethical, independent local journalism alive during the COVID crises while at the same time supporting nonprofit organizations, promoting youth housing, and access to health and social services.

Like most businesses, revenue streams were severely impacted by the impact of the pandemic. The changing economy and competition from tech platforms made it difficult to continue to deliver honest local, and transparent journalism. Jimmy stayed true to his values and commitment to the community he serves and continued to keep the community informed so they could manage the pandemic safely and make informed decisions.

The Desert Healthcare District and Foundation

The organization is being recognized for increasing awareness, visibility, and access to COVID-19 related health services by establishing and leading The Coachella Valley Equity Collaborative (CVEC).

CVEC has successfully linked community and faith-based organizations, government agencies, and local farm owners together to address the COVID-19 epidemic and ensure a coordinated effort to maximize resources and prevent overlap in services and outreach. The CVEC has coordinated training, established weekly testing sites for area students, school staff, and community members, and conducted testing clinics at events.

Since the launch of the first COVID-19 vaccine event at Tudor Ranch, Inc. in January 2021, many on-site registrations and vaccination events have been
held. As of November 2021, more than 219 COVID-19 vaccination clinics have administered 36,785 COVID-19 vaccines to District residents.

Vincent Corrales

Corrales is recognized for his belief and sincerity in serving others. He is a warrior for humanity and serves the community in selfless and loving ways.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vincent publicly offered to run errands and shop for groceries for those 60 years or older confined to their home due to having a compromised immune system or other conditions that prevented them from being in public. His compassion drives him to prepare meals for the area homeless regularly.

Vincent is a testament to the impact one individual can have on the unsheltered, hungry, and those in need. He has prepared hundreds of traditional Thanksgiving meals for families who otherwise would go without on Thanksgiving. Vincent is credited for improving the quality of life in Palm Springs, one life at a time. He also volunteers for various organizations and events, and he is a regular rider and fundraiser for AIDS Lifecycle.

Dean Lavine

Lavine is recognized for his support of charitable and fundraising events that have helped improve the quality of life for those living in Palm Springs. When the coronavirus pandemic first hit and restaurants and bars were ordered to close, it was an unprecedented situation for many business owners.

As a socially-minded business owner, Dean served on the Mayor’s COVID-19 Business Transition & Re-entry Task Force formed early in the COVID crisis. He contributed his leadership to help others in the community and served on
the City’s Parklet Design Standards Workgroup to suggest design guidelines and operational standards for parklets. Dean helped employees through the crisis, continued supporting community organizations, and offered his time to help shape policy to assist the business community in returning to operations amid a COVID environment. Dean is an example of what makes Palm Springs a charitable and hospitable community

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