May 25, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Chamber Of Commerce To Honor Heroes Sept. 11:

The Santa Monica business community will come together at the New Roads School’s Ann and Jerry Moss Theater this Thursday, Sept. 11 for one of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce’s signature annual events – the New Heroes Celebration.

The event is an opportunity for the business community to welcome Santa Monica’s newest public servants, including educators, police officers, and firefighters to the community.

Six heroes from Santa Monica will be honored for their tremendous contributions and outstanding work in the community.

The Inspiration Heroes are Dee Menzies, of Carlthorp School, Santa Monica College Police Department Captain Raymond Bottenfield, and Santa Monica Police Department officers Jason Salas and Robert Sparks. The three police honorees are being honored for their life-saving and heroic acts during the Santa Monica College shootings on June 7, 2013.

The Young Inspirational Heroes are Christopher Lopez and Stephanie Cohen.

Special guests Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, Fire Chief Scott Ferguson, and City Manager Rod Gould will be in attendance.

Entering the 20th year of its celebration, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce said it is honored to have the sponsorship of Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal LLP, the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau, Providence St John’s Medical Center, and New Roads School as well as others.    

The reception is being held at the New Roads School’s Ann and Jerry Moss Theater on Thursday, Sept. 11 from 4-6 pm. For ticketing and more information, visit www.smchamber.com/events/NewHeroes.

Inspirational Hero 
Award Winners

Educator Honoree: 
Dee Menzies, Carlthorp School

How did you come to be in Santa Monica?

I was born in Santa Monica. My family owned and operated an automobile dealership in Santa Monica beginning in 1922 and continuing for four generations.

What sort of activities are you involved with in the community?

• Head of School, Carlthorp School (32 years)

• Rotary Club of Santa Monica (Past President)

• Rotary Club of Santa Monica Charitable Foundation

• Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

• Santa Monica College Associates

• First United Methodist Church (served on and chaired many committees)

• Santa Monica Historical Society

• Upward Bound House (active participant)

• Everychild Foundation (Founding Member)

What encouraged you to be a role model?

My desire in becoming an educator was to work with youth and help them to attain their highest possible potential in life.

Growing up in the City of Santa Monica I was provided many educational and social opportunities. It is my goal to “give back” to the community and help ensure today’s youth will be afforded many of the same enriching experiences.

Who is your hero?

The teachers who work tirelessly in classrooms inspiring today’s children to become tomorrow’s leaders are my heroes.

Who else do you admire?

I admire those persons who reach out unselfishly everyday to help others, among whom are our firefighters, policemen, and educators.

Youth 
Inspirational 
Hero Award 
Winner:

Christopher Lopez, 18.

Can you share how you are involved in the community?

I am a sergeant here at the Santa Monica Police Explorer program. Myself and my fellow explorers help out with all community service events that are requested to us. Whether it’s color guard, guiding traffic, patrolling the promenade or assisting with Red Cross events, directing traffic for cancer walks. What ever it is we will help in any way possible.

How did you become involved with the Explorer program?

I used to play baseball when I was younger with a officer who is now a sergeant and he recommended this program to my mother. I became what is called a “recruit” at a very young age, I was 13-and-a-half I was small and scared of the obstacles ahead of me. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. Waking up every Saturday for pure discipline and yelling from 5 am to 7 am was not every kid’s dream. Twelve weeks of what I thought was hell was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done at that age. I failed Class 61 and ended up to have to go back for another 12 weeks. For Class 62, I was more confident. I felt like I knew what I had coming to me and I knew what was expected not only from me an individual but as a group. As a team. I graduated Class 62, nothing felt better than wearing my Santa Monica Police Department patches. I wear that uniform with pride every Monday meeting. The academy was a big change for me. I gained discipline,  leadership, initiative, integrity, ethics, time management, respect. It molded me to a better person, I am who I am today because of the explorer program.

Who is your hero?

I have many heroes. All my advisors that have been there for me. I look up to all of them as inspirational heroes and parent figures. Sergeant Bobby Villegas, officers Hee-Sok Ahn, Shawn Stockwell, Beatriz Gutierrez , Noel Grant, and community relations manager Susie Kim.

They’ve never gave up on me even when I gave up on my self at times. I can’t put it words how much I am thankful for them being apart of my life.

My mother was there with me every night pushing me through what I thought was hell and when I wanted to quit. She tried showing me the positives and the benefits I would gain after completing the academy. I wouldn’t be here where I am today if it wasn’t for her. Finally, Juan Lavarieaga and I have been there for each other since Class 62 pushing each other to above and beyond our limits.

What are your future plans?

My plans after I graduate college is to pursue what I love doing. To hopefully one day work with the Santa Monica Police Department.

Youth 
Inspirational 
Hero Award 
Winner:

Stephanie Cohen, 25.

Can you share how you are involved in the community?

For the past three years I have worked for the CA State Assembly, first as an intern while I completed undergrad at UCLA for then Assemblywoman Holly J. Mitchell (now Senator Mitchell) and then when Assemblymember Richard Bloom was elected I was hired on as his Field Representative.  

While in his office I worked on the issue areas of education, healthcare, senior and veterans affairs and homelessness.  In Santa Monica specifically I work with many community partners to follow early childhood education issues and help organizations understand the best way to lobby the legislature.  In addition, I have helped house several homeless veterans with the help of organizations like OPCC, Step Up, and United Way Los Angeles.  I planned several healthcare town hall education events for constituents of Santa Monica to be able to understand and find out more information about the Affordable Care Act and the requirement to be insured.  Although I am not 100 percent involved in Santa Monica now, I have moved on to be the Director of Patient and Community Affairs for the St. Anthony Medical Centers, non-profit community clinics in Hollywood and South L.A.  I am now every day connecting the medically underserved populations  to the healthcare services that they deserve.

How and why did you become involved in these initiatives?

Since high school I had always worked in the hospitality industry.  As a food server and restaurant worker, I gained a lot of experience in customer service and learned how to handle high stress situations while remaining calm.  Although I had that great skill set, I knew that I would likely not be able to move into politics or community affairs with just restaurant experience.  I studied Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA where my concentration with middle eastern affairs.  I always wanted to be in international politics, maybe even the CIA counter insurgency unit.  During my last year at UCLA, I was hired as an intern with Assemblymember Holly Mitchell where I had an amazing opportunity to act as a staff member and handle staff level duties.  I was helping people each time I walked into the office and knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do.  I guess you can say I fell in love with District Politics which to me gives the opportunity to be hands on with policy and social issues in the District that you represent.

Who is your hero?

My parents are my heroes.  I think about all of the sacrifices they have made to make sure that my brother and I were set to be successful in life and I hold that so close to my heart.  Not only did my parents teach me how to be the woman that I am today, but they never once questioned one of my life decisions nor did they pass judgment for any reason. I can only hope to be as supportive and hard working as my parents are.

Editor’s Note: The Mirror will profile the three officers being honored following the New Heroes celebration.

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