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2012 Board of Directors' Awards

By H.A.R.D.

HAYWARD, Calif. -- In 1962, the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) Board of Directors established an Annual Board of Directors Awards policy to recognize individuals and organizations that, on a voluntary basis, assist the District in its mission to provide high quality leisure facilities and programs to its residents.

On December 21, 2012, the Board of Directors’ Awards Committee composed of Directors Paul Hodges and Minane Jameson and staff members Dan Giammona and Kerrilyn Ely reviewed the nominations received for 2012. As always, the group of nominees was strong but after some debate the Committee selected the following recipients for this year’s awards:

* HARRY FRANCIS (Individual Award Winner)

Harry Francis is honored posthumously for his outstanding community involvement that has made our District a better place to live and work. Harry dedicated his life to his family and our community.

During his life he served as a Board Member for the District from 1995-1996. In 1996, after leaving the District Board, he began a 17-year tenure on the Castro Valley Sanitary District Board, where he served on committees and as a Commissioner of the East Bay Dischargers Authority Board. He also was an active representative for the Alameda County Special Districts’ Association.

In addition to his Board responsibilities, he volunteered on various committees, commissions and advisory committees that have been instrumental in the provision of fundraising, preservation and improvement to community services throughout the Greater Hayward area.

His on-going support and involvement was accompanied by his genuine, humble personality that made him a lovable and admired community member. Through his dedicated involvement he focused on the betterment of our community for all citizens. Harry was nominated by Director Dennis Waespi.and Parks Superintendent Larry Lepore. His wife, MaryAnn Francis, accepted the award.

“Harry was one of my dearest friends. I learned so much from him. I consider him my role model. I followed him onto the Castro Valley Sanitary District Board and HARD Board. His help was invaluable and I shall always cherish and remember his friendship,” stated Waespi.

“I’ve known the Francis family since before I joined HARD. My parents, Harry Francis and his wife MaryAnn work in the community on various projects. I also interacted with Harry in Rotary. At HARD, we liaised with each other when he served on the Alameda County Parks, Recreation & Historical Commission and he was instrumental in the proposal and ultimate construction of the skate park in Castro Valley. I always found Harry to be a gentleman and highly professional,” added Lepore. “I shall miss him and his commitment to the community.”

“The staff at Sulphur Creek Nature Center thoroughly enjoy the Francis family’s company at gatherings. Your fun-loving clan always livens up the party,” stated Wendy Winsted. “The public has donated more than $2,000 to the Center in Harry’s honor and memory. We’re indebted to you.”

* SOUTH HAYWARD PARISH (Organization Award Winner)

The Organization Award for 2012 is presented to the South Hayward Parish. For more than 40 years, this organization has engaged people in an endeavor and partnership of building a better community.

In 2011, the Parish launched a very unique recreation therapy program called “Homeless Angels” that focused on building individual capacity, skills and security to avoid homelessness. The program’s central purpose is building individual self-sufficiency through the creation of art, design and jewelry-making. This program invites individuals who are at risk of homelessness, or who are homeless, to join Community Action Network (CAN) members in job-creation activities. The program has been a success, moving six once at-risk individuals to stable housing and jobs.

The South Hayward Parish, which was nominated by Sara Lamnin, has encouraged community involvement, advocacy and individual assistance to those most in need in our community.

“My degree is in Recreation Therapy and one of my personal hobbies is jewelry-making. When I started working with those at-risk of homelessness and the homeless, a man at a meal program noticed a piece I’d made myself and I agreed to teach him,” explained Lamnin. “We received donations, new designs were created, our products marketed and the program grew. Participants learned they could accomplish and change their lives. People are now sober and in stable housing. We’re very proud of this new program. Snappy’s Café will host our items throughout February. We hope to have an online store by the end of the year. We’re also collaborating with to make reusable shopping bags from recyclable materials.”

* DR. RUSSELL HACKLER, D.V.M. (Special Recognition)

A special award is being presented to the late Dr. Russell Hackler, who was killed in a plane accident in November 2012.

Since 1986, Dr. Hackler donated more than 2,400 hours of veterinary care and services to Sulphur Creek Nature Center animals. He saved hundreds of animals and provided countless services at no cost to the District. This selfless donation of time and skills were his contribution and shared vision for the mission of Sulphur Creek Nature Center. Despite a very busy paid veterinary practice, Dr. Hackler always made time for injured or in-need animals from Sulphur Creek, including foxes, gophers, skunks, bobcats, bats and opossums which received treatment, X-rays, pathology, exams, neutering and emergency surgery.

Dr. Hackler is a very deserving recipient of special recognition for his donation of professional skills and services to the Sulphur Creek Nature Center over the past 26 years. Dr. Russell Hackler, DVM was nominated by Wendy Winsted. His wife, Kathie Hackler, and granddaughter, Amanda Dilger, accepted the award.

“I have many stories that Russell brought home from the clinic, about pets and wild animals. I was worried when he said he was working on a skunk! He loved working on the little wild animals; perhaps, they were more challenging than domestic animals. He was a very generous person and it was his way of contributing to the community. When met in 1970, he was already the vet at the annual Rowell Ranch Rodeo. This honor is for something for which he neither expected nor sought recognition,” said Kathie Hackler.

“I’m asking for donations of items on Sulphur Creek Nature Center’s wish-list,” explained Amanda Dilger who is continuing the tradition of giving. “I’m approaching schools and pet stores and also obtaining their permission to leave a donation box. It is part of my 5th grade class Kindness Project.”

“Twenty-six years is a long time. Dr. Hackler was always kind, always prepared, no matter how irritable or nasty the critter might be. He was also kind whenever we lost an animal, providing cremation services for some of our more special pets which are now buried on the hillside. It was reassuring to know that one was taking an injured animal to a generous and positive man. We feel lucky to have had him at Sulphur Creek and his involvement enabled HARD to put funds toward our educational programs and take care of more than 800 animals that come to us each year,” said Winsted.

The award winners were recognized at the HARD’s Annual Board of Directors’ Awards luncheon, provided by Elite Catering, at the Mt. Eden Mansion, Hayward, on Friday, January 25, 2013.

For more about the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, visit

l-r, (front row): Mrs. Kathie Hackler, Wendy Winsted (HARD), Amanda Dilger, Mrs. MaryAnn Francis, Sara Lamnin, Betty DeForest (Executive Director, South Hayward Parish), HARD Director Minane Jameson, (back row): HARD Directors Dennis Waspei, Paul Hodges, Lou Andrade.

Harry Francis

Dr. Russell Hackler, D.V.M.

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