A big “Thank You!” goes out to everyone who took time to nominate a person, business or organization for the WVCBA’s 2021 Oxnard Community & Business Awards. The Selection Committee met on July 15 and we are excited to announce this year’s honorees:
Distinguished Citizen of the Year – Michael Mercurio
Michael Mercurio is an 80-year-old retired Marine veteran who founded Oxnard's Neighborhood Pride volunteer program. Over the last year, he has coordinated countless volunteer clean-ups across the city making Oxnard look cleaner, safer and better. He has been the organizer, field general, and worker bee providing consistent, nonstop volunteer hours, days, and weeks in his commitment to help the city improve its overall appearance. Oxnard would not have looked better over this last year if not for Michael’s dedication.
Volunteer of the Year – René Corado
René Corado was born in a small village in Guatemala. To help his family, he shined shoes after school starting at age 8. Because of 36 years of civil war in Guatemala, he came to the USA at the age of 21 with only a sixth-grade education and without speaking English. He has made a tremendous difference here in Ventura County, particularly through his decades of study of indigenous birds of the Santa Clara River Valley. Even during the pandemic, he continued to go to his field sites working with conservation groups doing habitat restoration. He served on the advisory board for the Extended Opportunity Program and Services for Oxnard College, and on the Art Commission of Oxnard. He is an example that education works and dreams can come true.
Large Business of the Year – Goodwill Industries
Goodwill Industries of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties goes above and beyond providing supportive and employment services to the Oxnard community and beyond. During the pandemic, they continued to support people with barriers to employment to find jobs and support their families. They provide services to veterans, people with disabilities, youth, single parents, people who need a second chance, and so much more. They do all this while operating as a large business that employs hundreds of people in the region. Their headquarters is right here in Oxnard.
Small Business of the Year – Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals was recently listed as one of the Top 50 Fastest Growing Companies in the tri-counties by the Pacific Coast Business Times. They have been in business for 15 years in Ventura County, with offices in Oxnard and Thousand Oaks. Owners and operators Neil and Janet McMillan work to supply local employers with exceptional recruiting, employment and professional staffing. They and their team support various nonprofits including Food Share of Ventura County, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Make-A-Wish, Spark of Love and Ventura County Rescue Mission.
Best Place to Work of the Year – Regency Palms Oxnard
To say Regency Palms Oxnard has put together a dynamic team is an understatement. It appears they all love going to work each day! Here are a few comments from their associates: "At Regency Palms, you are made to feel appreciated, you are made to feel like you add value to the business. I have been treated with gifts, accolades and praise on a consistent basis. It makes me love what I do even more because the company I do it for cares and appreciates me"; "Every employee, including management, continuously shows interest in bettering the level of care provided with training and team building to ensure a great quality of life in a free, fun, loving home environment"; and "Regency Palms gets to know you as a person and finds ways to show you they care about you based on your own interest or events occurring in your life. It's so refreshing to work for a company where you feel like you're not at work... you're home!" Congratulations to Executive Director Ken Mahler for creating the Best Place to Work.
Young Professional of the Year – Brenda Heredia
Brenda is a graduate of USC and a lifelong resident of Nyeland Acres. She currently works for the City of Oxnard. Brenda is a Board Member of Nyeland Promise where she provides leadership on how the organization is run, the programs that are provided, and other guidance. Ms. Heredia oversees social media for the organization and prepares its community newsletters. She developed successful social media outreach programs for the Census (2020), Covid Outreach (2021), and various food distribution events. She participated as a volunteer in "Feeding the Front Line" that started in 2020, and volunteers with Oxnard Student Success to help encourage other young Oxnard Union High School District students to continue their education by attending college. She helped develop a backpack distribution last year that provided more than 250 backpacks with school supplies to Oxnard students. She is a smart, thoughtful individual with a passion to help her community.
Nonprofit Organization of the Year – Ventura County Rescue Mission
The Ventura County Rescue Mission, which includes the Lighthouse for Women & Children, has been serving the county, and specifically Oxnard, for nearly 50 years. The mission of VCRM is to provide a place of refuge, recovery and restoration to our neighbors in need. The Mission offers meals, shelter and longer-term programs, including transitional housing for men experiencing homelessness, addiction or hunger. The Lighthouse is a haven for women and their children, and offers the same services. Job training, counseling and case management allows Ventura County Rescue Mission to offer a hand-up instead of a handout. Last year, they provided more than 49,700 nights of safe, warm and comfortable sleep for men, women and children.
Innovative Business of the Year – SimpliPhi Power
The concept of SimpliPhi Power started in 2001, when founder Stuart Lennox was working as a production designer for the film and television industry. He needed a cool-looking bicycle for a commercial shoot and thought the Lee Iacocca electric bike would be perfect. He then started wondering about its batteries and what other uses they might have. In 2010, Stuart teamed up with Catherine Von Burg, now SimpliPhi’s President and CEO, to leverage technology for use in a wide-range of business and consumer products. “Our drive was to bring the same power security and energy resiliency the film and television industry was enjoying to the residential and commercial markets. Whether on or off grid, people were expressing a desire to have more control of their own power, either for back-up security, peak-shaving, load shifting or the resultant cost-saving benefits from all the functions that efficient and safe energy storage afforded,” Catherine said. “Yet, we knew we had to keep things simple and user-friendly. So, we ensured our Optimized Energy Storage line was lightweight, non-toxic, maintenance-free and provided seamless integration with renewable power sources in conjunction with or independent of the grid." SimpliPhi Power units can be found all over the world, employed in a wide variety of applications. The company started in Ojai and is now headquartered in Oxnard.
Oxnard Trophy – Anderson .Paak
Grammy-winning artist Anderson .Paak has been selected by our Board of Directors to receive the Oxnard Trophy at the 71st Annual Community & Business Awards. The Oxnard Trophy is presented to a person, business or organization that has brought recognition to Oxnard and has bettered the community. From his 2018 album titled "Oxnard" to his efforts to save the Oxnard Performing Arts Center to becoming an honorary OPAC board member in May, we are sincerely thankful to him and his team for having such a positive impact on the Oxnard community.
The Community & Business Awards luncheon emceed by Oxnard City Manager Alex Nguyen will be presented on Thursday, August 12, at 11:30 am at the Courtyard By Marriott in Oxnard. Registration is open and costs $60 per person, which includes lunch. Sponsorships are still available. To learn more, please visit https://bit.ly/OxCBAwards21.