Project Understanding announces 2017 Shining Star Award Winners

Matt and Dawn Bianchini of Richard H. Bejune Memorial Foundation, Janine Dykstra and Sheldon who presented their Shining Star Award.

Project Understanding of San Buenaventura held their annual “Shining Star Awards” on Thursday, February 9, at the Poinsettia Pavilion. The evening event was a celebration where they honored their outstanding community volunteers and partners and was highly attended by city officials, legislative representatives, local business owners, the faith community and supporters.

Among the honorees were Meg Perry and Gina Norstedt – Administration Volunteer of the Year; Karen Collier and Carolyn Tabor – Tender Life Volunteer of the Year; David Ensminger – Tutoring Volunteer of the Year; Nita Perkins – First Step Volunteer of the Year; Joanna Norstedt – Food Pantry Volunteer of the Year; Oxnard Monday Club – Philanthropists of the Year; CAPS Media – Collaborating Partner of the Year; Richard H. Bejune Memorial Foundation – Community Partner of the Year; MortgageCouch – Business of the Year; Ventura Seventh-Day Adventists Church and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church – House of Worship; Janine Dykstra – Employee of the Year; Carol and Larry Dawes – Donors of the Year; Charleen Morla and Kellie Meehan – Board Members of the Year; Karol Schulkin – Shalom Award; and Lynn Geller – Shining Star Volunteer of the Year.

Ventura Councilmember Cheryl Heitmann served as Master of Ceremonies. Many community leaders presented awards, including several government officials: Michael Powers, Chief Executive Officer, Ventura County; Matt LeVere, Ventura Councilmember; Patti Quiroz, representing Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson; and Jeannette Sanchez-Palacio, representing Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin. County School Superintendent Dr. Stan Mantooth presented on behalf of the educational community.

Other presenters included Betsy Chess, Limoneira; Dave Schulze, Ventura Church of Christ; Sheldon Brown, Ventura Breeze; Lisa Anglin, Fidelity National Title; Rick Pearson, North Oxnard United Methodist Church (former E.D. of Project); Kevin Clerici, Downtown Ventura Partners; Aaron Shiah, ServiceMaster Restoration & Cleaning by Integrity; Suki Sir, Turning Point Foundation; and Dan Stevens, namesake of the Dan Stevens Shalom Award (former pastor of Orchard Community Church).

The event was generously sponsored by: Oxnard Monday Club, Riviera Bronze and the National Charity League Juniors of Ventura County.

“This was a pleasant event to honor our community volunteers and partners. It was great way to kick off our celebration for Project Understanding’s 40th Year Anniversary this year. The success of the past forty years truly could not have been done without the support, partnerships and dedication of those we celebrated tonight and those who have carried our organization and believed in our mission throughout the years,” said Jann Huling, President of Project Understanding.

Founded in 1977, Project Understanding provides hope by developing and directing resources for the purpose of transforming lives and community through justice, mercy and compassion. For 40 years, Project Understanding has been assisting people reach their highest attainable level of independence. For more information on Project Understanding, please visit

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