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Community Awards: Organization of the Year

Korean War Veterans Association, Chapter 305

Nearly a decade of service as a Carson City group provides proud echoes of earlier military service by members in the Korean War Veterans Association, Chapter 305, which is a nominee for the 2008 Organization the Year Award.

Chapter 305 President Angelo P. De Felice, who made the nomination, cited chapter work to erect a Korean war monument and provision for trauma nurse scholarships at Western Nevada College as among the group’s notable achievements.

“It’s the only (Korean War) memorial in Nevada,” De Felice said of the monument at the east end of Fifth Street in Carson City. He said the memorial, which the chapter is still completing, lists the 34 Nevadans who died in Korea and commemorates the final major battle of the conflict in which he served.

Boulders at the site are named for Nevada communities, including Carson City, and recall names of hills in Korea involved in that final battle. De Felice said the hills’ names came from an officer with Nevada connections who led troops in the final fighting there a half-century ago.

The 43-member Chapter 305 provides a yearly scholarship of $1,000 for two beginning nursing students at WNC.

It also provides annual donations of $50 to $100 to Angel Tree of Carson City, Cub Scout Pack 341, Eagle Valley Children’s Home Christmas, Salvation Army Christmas, Special Olympics, two needy veterans during the holiday season, and the San Jose Chapter of the USO.

In addition, the chapter sent $580 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund and provided phone cards for use by wounded service personnel in Germany.

De Felice said Korean Americans in Northern Nevada, with whom his chapter has worked closely through the years, are grateful to America.

“I would like to make people aware of how appreciative Korean Americans are,” he said. “They have their freedom because of our help … the allies’ help.”

Cupcake Brigade

The Cupcake Brigade, nominated for 2008 Organization of the Year, is one of the newest groups in the city to help disadvantaged kids in schools feel they are valued as part of their community.

It is a thoughtful and meaningful gesture, according to chairperson Debbie Tull, when Brigade volunteers bake and take to schools cupcakes for these elementary school children and their classmates on their birthdays.

“It’s always volunteer, but it’s also anonymous,” said Tull. She took over as chairman in the spring from the brainstorming founder, Kathy Bartosz, after early publicity generated by Ronni Hannaman, executive director at the Carson City Chamber of Commerce. There are 20 volunteers, said Tull, who looks for expansion over time.

Hannaman said the Bartosz proposal blossomed via volunteers like Tull after it was first talked about in February and then mentioned in a column with anti-gang publicity she put out on Feb. 28.

“We have a group of mothers, grandmothers and others who are dedicated to the simple task of providing cupcakes to children whose parents do not have the wherewithal to bake or buy cupcakes to share with the child’s class on a birthday,” Hannaman said.

Hannaman said a birthday card is included with the cupcakes. She and Tull say the children are delighted with the recognition. Tull noted the selection of children for the program is coordinated with the city schools’ advocate official.

The self-funded volunteer program, conceived in winter and in full flower by spring, is still operating in the summer months for children at year-round Fremont Elementary School. It will gear back up to full bore in the autumn, said Tull, who took on Brigade leadership after retiring from the medical field.

Dayton Historical Society

There is an axiom about history being written by the victors, but in Dayton it seems historic preservation efforts were spawned by misfits. Make that “The Misfits” of movie fame, if you will.

Whatever stirred the originators of The Historical Society of Dayton – and the secretary of the society says it was “The Misfits” buildings used during the 1960s filming – this 16-year-old organization is now in the public eye itself.

Mabel Masterman, society secretary, nominated her group for 2008 Organization of the Year based on preservation efforts and related events.

Still, she recalls preservation of the dated movie set buildings used by Arthur Miller and his stars, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, got the ball rolling when the society began.

“Since then,” she says, “the organization also oversees the 1875 firehouse/jail.”

She said the group, with about 40 active members and more than 100 on the mailing list, also has taken in hand the 1881 Carson and Colorado Railroad Depot.

That building, which became a residence in the 1930s, “can be restored to the original footprint” and used as a visitors/interpretive center.

In 1999, Masterman said, the society put on a Nevada Gold Discovery Sesquicentennial event. And a couple of years later, the Dayton Valley historical group put on a Founders’ Day Celebration.

Members help host educational/entertainment events keyed to historical themes, among them a special Halloween presentation in which participants portray early area residents of note. Also featured are periodic historical lectures at various venues.

Masterman, who is retired from Nevada Bell Telephone, said the society will unveil its first walking tour brochure at the Dayton Museum, 135 Shady Lane, in Dayton’s old town on July 2.

“We’re a small but extremely dedicated group,” she said.