Antioch honors residents, organizations during annual Chamber virtual Gala

2019 Antioch Citizen of the Year for Most Impact, Wanda Hom presented with her plaque and other recognitions by Mayor Sean Wright (photo by Chamber of Commerce) and the late Ralph Garrow, Jr., the 2019 Antioch Citizen of the Year for Lifetime Achievement.

On Friday night, Sept. 24 the Antioch Chamber of Commerce held its Gala Dinner, this year virtually, and honored the city’s most outstanding residents and organizations with their annual awards. About 65 people watched from their homes on their computers or phones to celebrate this year’s honorees, while eating a take-out dinner from one of the Antioch restaurants they had to choose from.

“We are honored to be part of a community that has so many involved members,” said Antioch Mayor Sean Wright, the Chief Operating Officer of the Chamber, who served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. “Most often this is done without thought to recognition. The Antioch Chamber of Commerce believes it is important to honor those that help create our dynamic city. The nominees for most awards come from our membership and the community. The extremely difficult job of selection is made by a committee for all but the Chairman’s Award. Often many wonderful citizens and companies seem to be overlooked: but in reality, we simply do not receive a nomination.”

The honorees included Citizen of the Year for Most Impact Wanda Hom, Citizen of the Year for Lifetime Achievement, the late Ralph Garrow who passed away, earlier this year; Small Business of the Year the Rick Fuller Real Estate Team; Large Business of the Year  Travis Credit Union; Youth of the Year, Antioch High School Senior Chris Garcia; Veteran of the Year, U.S. Army, Vietnam Veteran, Past Galt VFW Commander, and current Antioch VFW Post 6435 Commander, Denny Hollison; and Non-Profit of the Year, Fellowship Church and Co-Ambassadors of the Year Jose Solorio and Tom McNell. Garrow was presented with his plaque and other recognitions at his home, earlier this year prior to his passing. (See related article) The awards were announced earlier this year in anticipation of the annual Gala which was scheduled for April, prior to the COVID-19 shelter in place order. (See related article) Each of the other categories will be featured in separate articles on this website, throughout this week.

Citizen of the Year Award

This award has a history dating back to 1947. The Citizen of the Year is now divided into Most Impact for the previous year and Lifetime Achievement, a person who has contributed to the community this year but also someone who has a history of working in the community for the betterment of everyone.

Citizen of the Year – Most Impact Wanda Hom

What does a citizen of the year look like?  What are the values and impacts of a good citizen?  Let me answer those questions by introducing our 2020 Chamber of Commerce Antioch Citizen of the Year, Wanda Hom.

Wanda has lived in Antioch for 31 years with her husband Marty while raising two children, Allison and Kevin who graduated from Deer Valley High School.

Immediately, Wanda began impacting the Antioch community by volunteering and getting involved in the community.  She spent immeasurable time at our Antioch schools volunteering to inspire and prepare young people to succeed and reach their potential.  She was also the face of Junior Achievement fostering our students to be work-ready, become entrepreneurs, and become financially literate.

Fourteen years ago, she helped create an educational foundation for Deer Valley High School and it has since become her passion.  Over these years, the foundation has raised $200,000 that has provided many programs and materials for the high school.  She has also coordinated the Every 15 Minutes Program for 15 years.  This program has reached over 8,000 high school students at a crucial age showing them that decisions and consequences are an everyday reality. We read about unfortunate accidents every day, and this is the strongest tool we have to prevent them.

Wanda follows and respects the rules of our community, she takes care of our environment, she volunteers in community organizations, she is respectful, she helps people in need, she is a good person!  Our 2019 Citizen of the Year – Most Impact is Wanda Hom.

Hom is the Accounting Activities Specialist for Deer Valley High School and works with the student clubs and athletics to manage all the funds they bring in.

“Oh, man, I don’t believe it,” she said with a laugh, when reached for comment when the awards were first announced, earlier this year. “I’m very honored and don’t feel deserving. There are so many others in Antioch who are more deserving. But, I’m happy to highlight Deer Valley High School and all of the things we do, here.”

Asked about her activities in 2019, Hom responded, “it would be our educational foundation and its support for the school and the Every 15 Minutes driving safety program.”

“The Deer Valley Educational Advancement Foundation, which was started by the parents, has been around about 14 years, supporting the school,” she explained. “This year they’ll be raising funds for the choir to pay for risers with backs on them for safety. We’re always a place for homeless and foster students providing them with supplies and materials, such as backpacks.”

Citizen of the Year – Lifetime Achievement – Ralph Garrow Jr

Ralph grew up in Antioch and graduated from Antioch High School in 1970 as Valedictorian and Drum Major of the Panther Marching Band. He then graduated from Stanford University and studied theatre production at the Yale School of Drama, after which he entered the family business as a homebuilder for 20 years and then transitioned to selling and managing real estate as a REALTOR® up to the present day as President of Ralph Garrow Real Estate.

Along the way, Ralph consulted on the creation of the theatre space in the Antioch Community Center downtown, served as 2009 Chairman of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce where he spearheaded the Vision 2020 program, was 2011 President of the Delta Association of REALTORS® and was recognized as the Delta REALTOR of the Year for 2009. He is the current president of Rotary Club of the Delta (Antioch) and is a state appointed director of the California Association of REALTORS. A personal high point was finishing the Honolulu Marathon in 2004. Ralph is a diehard Oakland Athletics and Stanford football fan so attending as many games as possible is his hobby.

Always finding time to volunteer for community service, Ralph coached his sons in CYO Basketball and Little League Baseball. He also served on the boards of the Delta Memorial Hospital Foundation, Antioch Little League (3 years as President), Hapgood Theatre, Building Industry Association, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Magic Theatre. He served on the Hillside and Measure “C” Subcommittees for the City of Antioch.

Ralph lives in Antioch with Laurie, his wife of 36 years, and they raised two sons, Ian and Alex. Ralph and Laurie enjoy driving a route in Antioch together for Meals on Wheels. They travel often and continue to get involved in community activities and support local organizations as much as they can.

Our 2019 Citizen of the Year – Lifetime Achievement is the late Ralph Garrow.

“I’m honored but I don’t necessarily believe I deserve it. I care a lot about Antioch, so, maybe my life has reflected that,” Garrow said, when reached for comment earlier this year.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Wanda Hom with Mayor Wright 09-24-20 & Ralph Garrow


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