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January 7, 2009 > Local Heroes (continued)

Local Heroes (continued)

By Justine Yan

On December 11, 2008 Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico recognized contributions of citizens in the Assembly District who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and generosity in their service to the community.

"Local heroes" include the Reed family of Fremont, Paddy Iyer of Union City, Harold Colon of Newark, Cossette Sun of Castro Valley, Ed Mullins of Hayward, Ray Maglalang of Milpitas, and John McWilliams of Pleasanton.

In addition to the local heroes awardees, Centro de Servicios was named the Community Partner Local Hero, Eden Housing was named the Non-profit of the Year, and Dr. Bhupinder Bhandari was given the Unity Award.

In our fourth of a series of profiles of these illustrious people and organizations, TCV focused on learning about the accomplishments of Hayward Local Hero, Ed Mullins, and Pleasanton award winner, Johns McWilliams.

Ed Mullins (Hayward)

"Ed is the kind of person who steps up when there is a key role to play in a volunteer organization," said Hayward Council Member Bill Quirk during his speech at the awards ceremony in December.

This year will be Ed Mullins' third year as president of the board of the Hayward Education Foundation, which supports public and private K-12 schools in Hayward. Its purpose is to improve the quality of local education by raising money for teacher grants to engage students in a variety of creative, classroom-oriented activities based on curricula. The foundation offers support to teachers of a range of subjects, including math, language skills, science, the arts, and health.

While the State of California allocates funds for education, "That's just not enough to really do the job in the opinion of many teachers," said Mullins. "And they're looking for additional materials and additional teaching aids in order to give a better education to their students, so they will apply to us for funding for special things."

The foundation aims to provide students with interesting supplements to standard materials, funding such "special things" as slides for science students to view under microscopes.

During the Hayward Education Foundation's 25 years of existence, it has awarded nearly 700 mini-grants, totaling $728,000.

"We feel that we're feeling a need that exists within the community," said Mullins. "Fortunately we have a lot of generous people who feel the same way and who are supporting us in that."

In fact, Hayward is a city in which money has not been officially allocated to supplement state funds for classroom and program support, said Mullins.

Mullins was also the president of the Hayward Rotary Club, from July 2007 to the end of June 2008. Currently, he is on the board of the Hayward Rotary Foundation which supports Rotary community service activities.

"Rotarians will decide to do something, and then they have to go raise money to make it happen," said Mullins.

Most recently, during Mullins' term as president, the foundation supported Hayward Rotarians in upgrading the hardware and software for the Community Technology Center at Hayward Adult School. The foundation was also instrumental funding several significant building projects that have benefited the city as well.

For 11 years, Mullins was a Chair of the Governmental Relations Council of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce. The council is a "watchdog legislative committee for the Chamber to monitor and take positions and advocate those positions on matters concerning the city of Hayward, in economics, education, jobs, all sorts of topics," said Mullins.

He stepped down from his position when he became the Rotary Club president.

Mullins also owns a consulting firm, "workforcedge" that assists the strategic development of companies by offering training and development activities based on a company's needs.

From an early age, Mullins was able to lead and motivate people. While serving in the naval reserve, he was promoted to the rank of captain. As a reservist, he became the president of a local chapter of the Naval Reserve Association, and later president of the twelfth district, including Northern California and part of Nevada. He retired with 30 years of services from the Naval Reserve.

"That's why I do what I do as a profession, because, as a leader, I can very easily teach and coach others to be leaders and better managers," said Mullins. "I don't mind being a worker bee, but when I'm called upon to lead, I will accept that responsibility and do it willingly."

"People need to give back to their community and to their society," said Mullins. And I just happened to have found some ways that suit me."

John McWilliams (Pleasanton)

According to Pleasanton Councilor Cheryl Cook-Kallio, John McWilliams is "Mr. Pleasanton." When introducing McWilliams at the awards ceremony, she applauded his selfless service in the Pleasanton community.

"A friend was temporarily wheelchair-bound and Johan and his cohorts built a ramp for his house," said Cook-Kallio.

"Damaged school gates were mysteriously repaired in the night. Who knew that John had a key?" she continued.

She had also heard that, on the way home from the hospital after recovering from surgery, he had insisted that his wife, Donna, open the band room so that he could put air in the truck tires, so that the vehicle could bear the load of the band equipment.

"His wife understood and often participated in this 'elf-like' behavior," said Cook-Kallio. "People often did not know who had undertaken the repairs or how they had arisen but I did."

When she learned about the nominations for Local Hero, the councilor immediately thought of McWilliams' many years of service. He had begun working for the city when he was a teenager, and he continues to donate his time and efforts today.

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