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Cupertino Youth Awarded By Local Optimist Clubs

Local middle and high school students recognized Tuesday night for volunteer achievements in the community.

Cupertino High School student Jessica Hess volunteers at Sunnyview Retirement Home, Meera Patel serves as Homestead High School’s ASB president and Norie Omiya and Vincent Chao of Monta Vista High School serve meals in the soup kitchen of the Mountain View Central Seventh-day Adventist Church.

These type of volunteer efforts helped nine majorly involved Cupertino school students recognized by two Cupertino-based Optimist International clubs Tuesday night at the Quinlan Community Center in Cupertino.

According to Harry Greenwood, president of the De Anza Cupertino Optimist Club, every year the international board of all Optimist clubs, Optimist International, declares “Youth Appreciation Week,” calling on local clubs all over the world to recognize and celebrate the youth that make big contributions to their community through service.

The Optimist Clubs of Campbell, San Jose, Los Gatos and Santa Clara all joined in the effort to recognize 38 students from West Valley cities for the event.

The Cupertino Optimist Club and its President Dennis Whittaker awarded Pranavi Chamarthi of John F. Kennedy Middle School. Chamarthi, volunteers with local creek clean-ups and goes door-to-door with the Monta Vista Fire Station of the Santa Clara County Fire Department to educate residents on earthquake awareness.

Other Cupertino Optimist awardees Ishaan Shah of Kennedy and Rachel Yeh and Avinash Malaviya of Cupertino High School were not present at the ceremony.

Greenwood said he and the De Anza Cupertino Optimists were happy to honor Homestead’s Patel and Allis Yao, who both serve on the school’s ASB board and are members of the school’s National Honor Society.

After dedicating her high school career to getting involved on campus, Patel said she was honored by the attention.

“For the past four years, I really tried to get involved and it’s nice to be recognized for all that I do,” Patel said.

Yao, who also plays for the Stanford Water Polo Club and is involved in her church’s youth group, said that she was just happy to be recognized for all her tireless work.

“I feel really honored that the work I’ve done is actually being seen,” Yao said. “Sometimes you work hard and don’t think you’re being recognized. It never fails to amaze me.”

The De Anza Cupertino club recognized Omiya and Chao, who both serve in Monta Vista’s Octagon and Leo Club, which is the junior version of the Optimists and Lions clubs respectively.

When asked about how she felt to be presented with her award, Omiya said that she just happy she can make a difference in her community.

“It’s an honor to be recognized considering it's just two people out of a large circle, but volunteering isn’t about being recognized, it’s about helping people,” she said.

Chao said he feels good when he helps people in his community and it is an important part of his youth.

“A lot of people we help are very underprivileged and it feels good to help make a difference in their lives and give them the support they need to help get them going.”

Hess of Cupertino High School was not present at the ceremony that opened with instrumental tunes from the Monta Vista Jazz Band.

According to its website, Optimist International is an association of more than 2,900 Optimist Clubs around the world dedicated to "Bringing Out the Best in Kids." Adult volunteers join Optimist Clubs to conduct positive service projects in their communities aimed at providing a helping hand to youth.

Robin November 18, 2011 at 08:12 PM
How wonderful to see community involvement being recognized! Thank you to all of the young people who are making our world a better place.
Sharon Blaine January 15, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Let's get the names correct. Dennis Whittaker from Cupertino Optimists, pictured with Pranavi Chamarthi, has been a "mover and shaker" in Cupertino for many, many years. He epitomizes the Optimists goal of living life with an optimistic attitude. Dennis always has a smile and something good to say. He looks for ways to make life better for people in our local area and beyond. An unsung hero of Cupertino, Dennis is one of many citizens quietly devoting their time and efforts for the betterment of our community. We are fortunate to have him in Cupertino. S. Blaine
Jeremy Barousse January 15, 2012 at 08:40 PM
My apologies Sharon, Dennis is a huge asset to the Cupertino community, sometimes us editors need editors too. Thank you for catching that error.

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