Nick Papadopolous is being hailed as a hero, though he's not sort of one who saves people's lives.
Or is he?
The Petaluma family farmer is one of 19 North Coast residents who will be honored Thursday morning by the regional American Red Cross chapter as "Real Heroes."
Organized into 10 categories of heroic service to others, the award recipients at a Red Cross fundraising breakfast at Rohnert Park DoubleTree Hotel will include rescue professionals who plucked imperiled people from a cliff, and law enforcement officers who dived into Clear Lake to save an elderly motorist.
The farmer's heroism is subtler.
Papadopolous will be cheered for his use of social media to get unsold or otherwise unused produce to people in need before the vegetables, fruits and other agricultural products spoil or are thrown away.
Papadopolous, general manager of Bloomfield Organics, will accept the award with Gary Cedar of Sebastopol. They and Cedar's wife, Joanna, co-founded CropMobster.com, the online platform that produces alerts that help to find people in need of food that otherwise would be fed to livestock or go into the compost heap or landfill.
"We're just a little over year in, and the inspiration and impact has been remarkable," Papadopolous said. He figures that the information shared on CropMobster.com has prevented the discarding of at least half of million pounds of food.
As a bonus, he said, farmers and ranchers in the region have attracted attention, and sales, from people formerly unaware of them and the food they raise.
Papadopolous is working to spread the CropMobster concept to other areas.
"It's just crazy," he said, "when 40 percent of the food in this state goes to waste."
Papadopolous will share accolades and acknowledgment at the Real Heroes breakfast with:
Sport divers Jason O'Donnell, Heath Blackwell, Ken Butler, Jack Johnson and Robert Winn. They placed themselves in danger to go into the ocean at Fisk Mill Cove to find and recover the body of a fellow diver.
George Kennedy, who volunteers nearly full-time to operate the lunch program at the Ukiah Senior Center.
Peace officers Christopher Chwialkowski, Nicholas La Velle and Laura Carr. They rescued a 71-year-old woman whose car was submerged in Clear Lake.
Riley Orton, a Sonoma Valley boy who has sent school supplies to a school in Africa and mounted campaigns to help many others, both locally and internationally.
Sara O'Donnell, co-founder of the Cancer Resource Center of Mendocino County.
Rescue professionals Paul Bradley, Donald Ricci and Chris Mahoney, who coptered to the aid of several people trapped on the side of a cliff.
Retired teacher John Bribiescas, co-founder of Schools Plus, which raises substantial money for enrichment programs at Santa Rosa's secondary schools.
Tim Blair, whose Transformational Sailing helps veterans and others who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or cancer by treating them to the thrill of slicing through the water beneath sails.
Chris Kittredge, a champion raiser of puppies to be trained for service to disabled clients of Canine Companions for Independence.