I have faith in the world again.
Last night I was awarded a NEXTie award with three other amazing people Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, Reyna Ruiz and Marina Sousa held at the old Wrigleys Gum Factory…yes they use to make gum in Santa Cruz.
My wife and I arrived to find the venue artfully decorated and definitely 1st class, there was a bit of comedy when we tried to check in as my name wasn’t on the guest list….thank god they had the party poster nearby with my pic on it…it was a close one as I saw security eyeballing me lol. Once we worked out that issue which was hilarious as I had to have Ryan Coonerty vouch for me and then all was fine. As the sold event filled in and the food rolled out, people started mingling and the party was getting started. Ironically, the first people we spoke with were Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz and Reyna Ruiz (2 of the 3 other award recipients) you could tell the nervous energy was built up as we were excited to be honored and really had no idea what was in store for the evening. Greg Archer and Jeff Dinnell were on fire making sure to get film outtakes with all the nominees and making the event even brighter. Jeffrey Kongslie, MC and man de la extraordinaire with his spiffy bow tie was full of energy and a phenomenal host to all that showed to celebrate the gala in store. After carousing the crowd and eating the fine hor devours it was time to get down to business. I was up first and Ryan Coonerty along with an insane video bio introduced me to the stage and I had my moment to share with the crowd what Grind Out Hunger meant to me through this quote from Alvin Toffler:
“The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they – at some distant point in the future – will take over the reigns. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely… because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.”
I had the time of my life as my wife and I made it around the capacity crowd talking about Grind Out Hunger and what an inspiration it is to the youth of Santa Cruz County. My friends and colleagues came out in full support of the evening, Willy McCrea, Shane and Eden Gallagher, Paul Gallagher, Gina Renna and Eric Walters, Sean and Valerie Sinnot, Christian Sacoolas and Jen Nelson. I also ran into a few of my Facebook and Twitter friends Dewey Decibel, Mosiac Moon and MRosas who shared the wonderful evening.
Tons of thanks and gratitude go out to Ryan Coonerty for nominating me, Greg Archer for believing in me, Willy McCrea Second Harvest Food Bank for taking a chance on me and Grind Out Hunger, Jeff Dinnell for capturing my essence on video, Jeffrey Kongslie, Timerie Gordon, Santa Cruz Next and its board, Santa Cruz Skate and Surf Shop, all the volunteers that helped setup, my wife Taniya and especially…especially the youth of Santa Cruz County…this award is ours!!!!