2011 Person of the Year
May 04, 2011 05:06AM
● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana
Philanthropists, activists, heroes, survivors and downright good people – these are the folks in our community who we unknowingly cross paths with daily, but this month Style raises them to their deserved pedestals and shares their award-winning stories.
Allow us to introduce to you the nominees and winner of the 2011 “Person of the Year” award as voted by you, the readers. So, without further ado, the winner is…
Cindy Weideman, D.D.S.
ABOUT THE WINNER, CINDY: “Since day one I grew up with family members who helped out in the community and I wanted to carry on the tradition,” says Cindy. “I do it with dentistry because so many children in Sacramento don’t go to a dentist at all. They don’t have the means, the opportunities or the knowledge that they should go.”
For many years, Cindy dreamed of helping underprivileged children in the Sacramento area by establishing a dental clinic for those without coverage. After almost 2.5 years of planning and collaboration with the Sacramento First 5 Commission, of which Cindy is a commissioner, the Effort Oak Park Pediatric Dental Clinic opened in February 2011 and is the first of five state-of-the-art, non-profit pediatric dental clinics now scheduled to open in Sacramento County.
“My dream was to build a place where kids could feel happy, so I decided that what these underprivileged kids need is a comfortable place to go,” says Cindy. “I helped design the Oak Park clinic with a wildlife theme and my family members even pitched in with their artistic talents. Everyone put their hearts into it.”
Cindy has also put her heart into every community service endeavor she’s touched. She has participated in the annual Give Kids a Smile program since its inception in the ‘80s, where she sees about 100 kids in one day to provide free cleanings, fillings and more. She also adopts needy kids into her practice and performs extensive procedures. The list of her voluntary dental services extends through many organizations and events throughout the community and beyond, to as far as China, the Philippines and Peru.
“My favorite thing is just playing with the kids,” says Cindy. “A kid is just so fun. A child’s laugh is like going to heaven. Or they will just come up to you and hold your hand or hug you. That’s like my life’s reward and why I live. I’m so lucky to be able to enjoy children.”
Cindy Weideman is truly a child at heart. She has a huge passion for everything Disney, especially Disneyland, which she has made a personal goal of visiting every year of her life. And, most importantly, she loves to have fun – with her friends, family and anyone else interested in living life to the fullest. All of these qualities make her an ideal pediatric dentist; however, when it comes to her career she takes her role very seriously.
>> READ ON FOR THE OTHER NOMINEES...
Deanna and Woody Bartley
ABOUT DEANNA AND WOODY: When Deanna and Woody Bartley lost their Boston terrier Wally in 2000, they could never have anticipated the end result of their beloved dog’s death. In the short term, they rescued two elderly Bostons named Chance and Bliss, along with three other dogs, all while living in a small Sacramento bungalow. Ultimately though, their love for Wally and animals in general inspired them to buy a ranch in Penryn in 2003 and start A Chance for Bliss Animal Sanctuary in 2005 – creating a “forever home” for almost 200 elderly and special needs animals spanning 13 species over the past six years.
“De and I share the belief that no animal comes here by choice,” says Woody. “Once they are here, they are deemed residents. We have many animals that were well cared for, but then their human companion died and they went to a shelter and weren’t wanted. On the other end of the spectrum, some come here after being abused or uncared for. Our favorite thing is to see when they finally realize that they are at their final place. At one point they recognize ‘Wow, this is really cool!’...just to see that they regain hope is worth everything that we do.”
The Bartley’s view their animals as children, working around the clock to provide for their needs until their final hour. In the past 10 years, over 80 of their “kids” have died, leaving about 90 animals currently living at the sanctuary; however, the cost of care for so many animals is fairly expensive. In 2008, after losing a majority of their income and almost losing their home, A Chance for Bliss officially became a nonprofit as a way to stay afloat. Since then, their sponsorship program has helped to partially compensate for residents’ medical and living expenses.
“Our real dream is to be the Shriner’s of the animal world,” says Woody. “Our goal is to help people have procedures performed on their animals with our help. There are 78 acres for sale a stone’s throw from our house. We could build a world-class medical facility, teach classes and expand the amount of animals. We try not to be the sort of organization that is constantly asking for stuff, though. We want to be respectful of people’s time and funds and be as well-run as possible. First, we want to get sustainable with our current model; then, the next step will be to acquire the property and start building our long-term dream.”
ABOUT LESLIE: Since childhood, Leslie DeDora has shown an ability to find creative solutions to unique challenges. Leslie learned how to understand and accept her aunt’s mental retardation. “Before I understood her challenges, I made fun of her...because she looked the same as the other adults, but acted like a child,” says Leslie. “When my mom explained, though, I learned to appreciate my aunt and we actually became very close.”
Leslie took this lesson to heart and describes it as “one of the jigsaw pieces that eventually led me to start A Touch of Understanding.” Through meeting disabled adults and children she became inspired to develop a program to help teach others how to appreciate people’s differences, rather than shun them. A Touch of Understanding is a non-profit organization with a mission to teach acceptance and respect for all individuals, with an emphasis on those with disabilities.
The organization has now reached over 46,000 students in the Greater Sacramento area schools and is unique in that it provides participants with a hands-on opportunity to experience various disabilities first-hand. A second component involves speakers who have disabilities and who talk openly and honestly with the students. Leslie says, “In three hours we change lives.”
“I have two sons – ages 35 and 31 - and when they were in school there was a real push to mainstream people with disabilities,” says DeDora. “I would volunteer and was waiting for the general-ed students to be educated regarding the disabilities but they weren’t, so then the disabled students became the targets of ridicule, especially the ones with invisible disabilities.”
“We (A Touch of Understanding) currently have about 40-45 people who volunteer to share their challenges, insight, humor and experiences,” says DeDora. “The students come away with a very different attitude then when they arrived. The kids don’t feel like they just listened to the speakers, they feel like they know them. We always use our first name so there is no division of generations or any other divisions because we don’t have time for that. In three hours we change lives.”
ABOUT JODY: As the oldest of six children, Jody Jones says she was always mom’s little helper. It seems Jody has turned her maternal skills, as well as the majority of her time and energy towards helping dogs instead, with her non-profit Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue facility.
It started after Jody’s beloved golden retriever was hit by a car and nearly died. Jody and her husband Mike made a pact to care for goldens forever...and they created Homeward Bound.
After establishing the organization in 2000, Jody and her husband retired to devote their lives to the nonprofit full-time. They moved to an eight-acre ranch in Elverta to grow their rescue facility, where they now have a therapy pool, walking paths and a dog park. The self-sustaining organization spends about $25,000 per month to cover medical expenses for the dogs, even with a vet who volunteers her time every Saturday for vaccinations and exams, performing everything but surgery at the ranch. Jody takes all the dogs that need extra help to the hospital. “We’re very fortunate that we get food donated by different distributors,” says Jody. “I’m also fortunate that we have almost 200 volunteers on our roster to help at different times with bathing, feeding and walking. We’re one big, happy family.”
In fact, Jones places a lot of emphasis on family and understands that many people have to give up wonderful dogs because they’ve lost their jobs or their homes and they need to make a choice. Homeward Bound has about 75 families waiting to adopt and the volunteers help to match up the right dog with the right family. It’s a private adoption and the previous owner can recommend things that would work well for their dog so they can try to find the best possible match.
“My favorite part is matching up a dog with a good home because it’s a win-win situation,” says Jones. “Having families come back month after month and year after year telling me what a wonderful experience they’ve had is an amazing feeling. Also, at Christmas time we get a lot of letters and pictures of the families with the dogs. They all stay in touch. We have a really wonderful effect on so many people.”
ABOUT ASHLEY: Although Ashley Campbell is only in her mid-20s, she has already experienced more than most women dream of. For starters, she played the part of “Sleeping Beauty” at Disneyland when she was 20. “For most women, working at Disneyland was just the first step to a larger dream,” says Ashley, “but for me it was the finale – a dream come true.”
Now, Ashley has turned her passion into a business – Enchanted Parties. She and four other “girls” can be hired to play famous princesses and put on a party with all the frills, including arts and crafts, singing and teaching. Yes, teaching. As a proud mom of two, Ashley reinforces important life lessons, such as health/dental care and getting along with siblings at her parties. “The words of a favorite princess seem to have a strong impact on a child,” she says.
Ashley extends her love for helping kids and moms to the community. For her church, she recently started Wee Glee, a youth choir for children. She also started their Young Mom’s Ministry to give moms a break and a chance to socialize. Outside of church, Ashley is the youngest member of Roseville Soroptimists, where she has dedicated herself for several years to numerous community service endeavors.
“I was really shocked about being nominated for this award, because other people around me seem to do so much more,” says Campbell. “Then I started thinking it was pretty neat because I could help represent young moms and show them it’s possible to be involved in a lot by sometimes being the finger and not always the backbone. For example, before becoming a mom I would always try to chair committees, but now I often take a smaller role – something I can do at night when the kids go to bed.
Aside from volunteering, one of the ways Campbell feels she truly gets a “pulse” on the needs of the community is through her and her husband’s business, Campelli’s Pizza. Since opening in 2008, she says the restaurant has afforded them “a unique opportunity to serve everyone, know everyone and get connected. Owning a business in a town like this has been life-changing.”
In Campbell’s case, it’s obvious to see that young in years, does not necessarily equate to young in wisdom. Owning two businesses, raising a family, devoting herself to a loving marriage and diving in wherever possible to help the community she proves that dreaming is important, but it truly comes down to the doing. “I’m the fearless, go-for-it type,” says Campbell. “I believe that if something is there, then you should go for it.”
“I was really shocked about being nominated for this award, because other people around me seem to do so much more,” says Campbell humbly.
ABOUT DEREK: Derek Brock tends to make a plan for himself and stick with it . . . except when he doesn’t. Professionally, Derek made a personal pact to never own a small business, coming from a family in which both parents had done so. He wanted to work for a large company, so he left his Roseville birthplace to attend business school at Berkeley, then worked at IBM and other corporations. After about 13 years, he decided to return home to raise his family and ended up doing exactly what he insisted he never would.
“When I moved back, though, I met this phenomenal lady who taught me incredible things – my mom,” says Derek. “This little lady, who didn’t speak much and listened a lot, was from a family of 14. Over the years, her salons expanded and eventually I got involved in the family business.”
Derek says, “I’m very blessed because this is an industry where we get to make people feel better. I don’t do hair so we’ve had to change up what we do since my mom passed in 2001, but we’re still Redken’s largest Northern California account. We promise our customers we’ll bring out two nationally renowned hair stylists each year to work hands-on with our stylists because we’re in an industry that doesn’t just change with the year, but with the seasons.”
Brockway Hair Design started as one location in Old Roseville in 1960 and has since expanded to more than nine locations throughout three local counties. They also have Atrium Salon Spa in Rocklin and All Pro Cuts in Yuba City.
Personally, Brock’s life took another drastic change when he traveled to Rio de Janeiro with a friend and met a woman at the Banana Café. She had completed her degree in Kentucky, was home for a year and going back to the U.S. to get her master’s degree. Brock planned to go to Brazil for a week and, once again defying his initial plan, stayed a month. Two years later they went back to Brazil to get married.
“My wife has two master’s degrees and speaks several languages. My mom came from a large family and dropped out of school to go to beauty school. I thought I had two very different women but when it comes down to core values, they are the same,” says Brock. “My wife provides a very different perspective of the world. She reminds me of how good we have it. As upset as we may get with things, we are very blessed. My wife and mom provide me with my main values.”