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Red Cross Honors Local Heroes

Ceremony in Danville Friday shined a spotlight on those who help their community.

One man ran into a burning house to help save three women.

A woman in East Contra Costa County started a non-profit organization to help the parents of foster children.

A 90-year-old Lafayette man still volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.

These folks were among the local heroes honored this morning by the American Red Cross at a ceremony at Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville.

Dan Ashley, an ABC7 television news anchor who lives in Walnut Creek, was master of ceremonies.

The ceremony is an annual event sponsored by the Red Cross. Other similar ceremonies are being held in other counties this fall.

"The event is held to get the community together to recognize the wonderful works of these unsung heroes," said Ruth Rosenberg, the chair of the Red Cross' Contra Costa Leadership Council, which is based in Concord.

Here's a list of those honored today:

Dan Hernak rescued three women from a burning house in Pittsburg. The women were asleep when the blaze erupted at 2 a.m. Hernak banged on the front door until one of the women opened it. Hernak then led that woman out, went back inside and dragged the other two women to safety. Fire officials said if the women had been in the house for another 10 minutes, they would have died.

Diego Garcia helps oversee the Richmond Sol Youth Soccer League. He guides 350 students and 46 volunteer coaches. Garcia used to belong to a Richmond gang and was shot when he was 18. He says he wants to build self-confidence and life skills with at-risk youth.

Richard Rockwell is a 90-year-old Lafayette resident who has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for 17 years. He continues to work for the organization two days a week. Rockwell works on a variety of jobs in the group's home-building efforts from the roof to the foundation.

Denise Ransom lost her job at the Contra Costa welfare department in 2008. Shortly afterward, she established From My Heart To Your Heart, a non-profit organization based in Antioch that helps parents whose children have been placed in foster care.

The REACH Project Inc. is one of the oldest youth counseling programs in Northern California. It was co-founded by Shirley Marchetti and then-Sgt. Leon Leroy in 1970. About 80 percent of the people enrolled in REACH come to the program through disciplinary action taken by police, courts or school administrators.

J. T. Archuleta and Israel Hoagland helped rescue a neighbor from a burning home in Martinez. Both men ran from their houses when they heard a window explode during the afternoon blaze. The two men broke a window to get into the home, then crawled until they found the resident and pulling him to safety.

The Contra Costa Humane Society was formed in 1991 by the merger of two local animal care organizations. Today, the organization supports domestic and feral aniimals through a variety of programs, including spay/neuter, pet shelters and adoption.

David P October 08, 2011 at 05:26 AM
This was a great event. The stories of these people and organizations made me happy I share the same community as they do. Congratulations to the honorees...and thanks Dave for covering.

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