Out of six submissions for the Ernie Maxwell Community Spirit Award, the Town Crier has culled them down to three top candidates the community will now choose among.
The honor is given to an individual or group that represents EMax’s spirit of community and volunteerism. Prior awardees took actions that created a spark sufficient to bring others into the fray just as Maxwell did with his activities involving the environment.
This year, all nominees are individuals who have demonstrated a tangible, perhaps physical, effect on the community.
The candidates and their accomplishments, in alphabetical order, are:
1. Jerry Holldber, whose volunteerism has spanned five decades.
Holldber moved to Pine Cove at age 9 and began volunteering with the Idyllwild Institute Fiesta (headed by the late Ann Lay) as a young teenager.
He joined the Jaycees and eventually became president, serving as chair of six Bluegrass Festivals. Part of the proceeds went to help start the Friends of the San Jacinto Mountain County Parks.
He joined the Pine Cove Volunteer Fire Department and served as a volunteer engineer, EMT and ambulance driver for 12 years, helping save lives and property.
As a 15-year member of the Idyllwild Lions Club, he became president, as well as zone chair, and then co-founder and co-chair of the five Timber Festivals. The efforts helped support a special needs camp, as well as Guide Dogs of the Desert.
He volunteered for about two years with the Idyllwild Scholarship Committee, and became a member of the Pine Cove Property Owners Association, serving as president as well as several other positions over the past 25 years.
He has been involved with the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council for 10-plus years, serving most years as treasurer. Holldber also was appointed to the County Service Area 38 Advisory Committee.
Holldber’s efforts with PCPOA, as well as the MCFSC, provide programs, information and support for the residents of Pine Cove and the Hill.
2. Christina Lee Nordella learned Jin Shin Jyutsu to help alleviate her twin sister’s pain during the two years her sister dealt with cancer. She continues to offer this gift to others on the Hill who have or have had a cancer diagnosis.
She is a founding member of the Idyllwild School smARTS program, and has volunteered for 11 years, coordinating it for the past six years.
While having her own personal experience of losing everything to a fire several years ago, she and a friend held a fundraiser for those who lost everything in the Mountain Fire, raising about $8,000, and also helping victims of the Silver Fire.
In 2007, she re-established EarthWitness Foundation to bring off-Hill children to the mountain and teach them extended ecology and Native American programs. More than 550 students have passed through the program that awards a scholarship to an eighth-grade student and teacher who exemplify the mission statement. EWF also raises money for Cahuilla basket weavers, Idyllwild Arts Academy Sustainability Program, as well as others.
In 2013, Nordella donated her time as an applicant screener to the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema. She also coordinated volunteers and presented films.
She and Conor O’Farrell created Leg Up Theater Company to benefit charities, families and organizations in need. It raised money for the Idyllwild Community Center, as well as Idyllwild Middle School sports.
She now prepares and serves a free community lunch every Thursday at St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church with help from Fairway Market. She also offers free 15-minute Japanese acupressure sessions on Fridays at St. Hugh’s.
3. Annamarie Padula was nominated, first of all, because of her presidency of the Pine Cove Property Owners Association. Under her leadership, PCPOA has donated several thousand dollars to various organizations for many years.
She is the recording secretary for Mountain Disaster Preparedness and CSA 38. She takes minutes and distributes them to board members of the Associates of Idyllwild Arts Foundation.
Padula is chair of the annual Mountain Community Patrol Pancake Breakfast, organizing, ordering supplies, assigning jobs, cooking and cleaning up.
She also, as a member of the Mountain Quilters of Idyllwild, made a Lemon Lily quilt and donated it to be auctioned at the 2013 Lemon Lily Festival, raising money to support restoration of the local Lemon Lily.
The three previous awardees were the Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council in 2011, Dawn Sonnier in 2012 and Robert Priefer in 2013.
To vote, fill out the form on the back page (no photocopies) and drop it off at the Town Crier office or mail it to Town Crier, Attn: Emax Award, P.O. Box 157, Idyllwild, CA 92549. Or vote online at www.idyllwildtowncrier.com. The deadline to vote for your favorite nominee is Thursday, July 31.