Olivia Garcia

Monday, Dec 17 2012 07:21 AM

OLIVIA GARCIA: Mendiburu foundation salutes its 'Compassion' honorees

By Olivia Garcia

Three local community leaders and one local business, in addition to two health officials, were recently honored for their commitment and support of the a local nonprofit that assist families faced with cancer.

The Mendiburu Magic Foundation hosted its 12th annual Compassion Awards on Dec. 12 at the much-loved Wool Growers, which sponsored the event, along with Hall Ambulance and Raymond's Trophy.

The nonprofit foundation was founded in memory of Nancy Ann Mendiburu who died from ovarian cancer 12 years ago. The foundation provides patient-assistance funds to local children battling a life-threatening illness, and their families, and supports local youth development programs, cancer research and scholarships.

"Her greatest legacy to the world is compassion," said Brian Mendiburu, referring to his mother, Nancy. Mendiburu is the founder and president of the foundation and leads it with support from his wife, Valerie, and an army of volunteers.

Mendiburu is the assistant principal at Bakersfield High School by day and a father of three boys. However, he finds time out of his busy schedule to run the foundation in honor of his mother.

"Her strength of character and bedrock belief in right and wrong has gone admired by those who knew her," he said. "Thus, it is fitting that the highest honor awarded by the Mendiburu Magic Foundation carries the name of the beloved woman. This prestigious award is bestowed upon those who have made monumental and lasting contributions to the cause of empathy and compassion."

The Nancy Ann Mendiburu Compassion Award recognizes the caring ways of an individual or business that has promoted her philosophy and commitment. Since 2000, MMF has awarded these four categories: Outstanding Advance in Cancer Research; Outstanding Medical Social Worker; Outstanding Youth Development Professional; and President's Award for Outstanding Community Contribution The Outstanding Advance in Cancer Research award went to Dr. Julien Sage of Stanford University (RB gene family in cellular reprogramming). Kimberly Morse, a clinical social worker at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, received the Outstanding Medical Social Worker Award.

The Larry E. Reider Outstanding Youth Development Professional Award was given to Steve Sanders of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools while Hall Ambulance Service Inc. was honored with the Outstanding Community Partner Award.

In addition, Assistant Police Chief Lyle Martin of Bakersfield Police Department was honored with the 2012 President's Award, while Monsignor Craig Harrison of St. Francis Catholic Church was recognized with the Nancy Ann Mendiburu Compassion Award.

Congratulations to all the honorees for making a big difference in a local important foundation.

John Collins

Speaking of foundations, the Bakersfield College Foundation has announced plans to launch an endowment in honor of John Collins, the late former BC president. Collins died last year a month after surviving a major car accident in Bakersfield. He was 93.

The BC Foundation is currently seeking support for the Dr. John Collins Memorial Endowment that will be used for a scholarship because he advocated education, said Mike Stepanovich, the foundation's executive director. The foundation chose an education-focused endowment after consulting with Collins' children, John, Margaret and Charles Collins, Stepanovich said.

"He left Bakersfield a legacy of empowerment through his years of educating generations of local residents," Stepanovich wrote in a letter to supporters. "He came to Bakersfield 65 years ago and was a teacher, coach, counselor, dean and college president during that time. He was one of the founders of the Bakersfield College Foundation, and the Collins Campus Center at Bakersfield College is named for him."

Along with the endowment, the foundation will organize an annual awards dinner in Collins' honor that will be held in conjunction with the Bakersfield College centennial celebration. The tentative dinner date will be in March 2014. The foundation has set a goal of a $50,000 endowment.

For more information, please contact the BC Foundation at 661-395-4800 or visit the web site at www.bcfoundation.net. Olivia Garcia is editor of Bakersfield Life and BWell magazines and a columnist of The Bakersfield Californian. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Bakersfield Californian. Send her tips at ogarcia@bakersfield.com

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