Dublin has named Michael D’Ambrosio, a teacher at Dublin High School, as Citizen of the Year and Anya Sengupta, a Dublin High School student, as Young Citizen of the Year for 2020.
The award winners were announced last week during an evening ceremony broadcast live on Tri-Valley Community Television.
Breaking BEARriers was also named Dublin Organization of the Year, while the Mayor’s Award went to Open Heart Kitchen and the Mayor’s Legacy Award for long-term dedication to the Dublin community went to Connie Mack.
D’Ambrosio, who teaches video production, was cited for creating a Facebook group, Tri-Valley Community Help During Shelter in Place, which eventually grew to include more than 2,100 members.
“It started early in the pandemic with a plea to check on neighbors and friends and make sure that their needs were being met during the stay-at-home order,” said Catherine Brown, a teacher at Frederiksen Elementary School teacher, who nominated D’Ambrosio for the award. “It was a scary time and people wanted to band together.”
Brown, who was herself nominated for Citizen of the Year, said D’Ambrosio became a “project manager and a cheerleader,” working with local hospitals, healthcare workers, nonprofit organizations, restaurants, pharmacies, donors, and volunteers to help meet the needs of hundreds affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
“He made amazing things happen all while getting online every day to teach his students at Dublin High School in distance learning,” Brown said in her nominating letter.
Sengupta was cited for turning her hobby garden into a source of fresh food for local food banks during the pandemic.
According to her multiple nominations – submitted by Shay Debnath, Bob Kaehms, Vijji Suryadevara, and Vijay Ramalingam – Sengupta started by donating produce from her garden to her neighbors when online groceries were slow to deliver. That inspired her to organize weekly food drives for a local community pantry in Pleasanton. She also started a blog on gardening and taught several of her neighbors to grow food.
Breaking BEARriers, which won the 2020 award for organization of the year, was formed in 2019 by six eighth graders from Dublin and Pleasanton to promote teamwork and develop leadership skills. Registered as a nonprofit organization, the student-led club has since grown to more than 30 members.
During the pandemic, the club created more than 3,000 face shields for local hospitals and healthcare centers. Club members also collaborated with Fertile Groundwork, a nonprofit organization that encourages members of the community to grow food for themselves, and they helped create, a mural at the Garden of Grace at Asbury United Methodist Church in Livermore.
The club also participated in efforts to promote distance learning, a toy drive for children in need, a project to provide school supplies, and Socks for Seniors, which provided blankets, thermal socks, hats and gloves for senior residents in Pleasanton.