For a few minutes last week, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors interrupted the push and shove of politics to acknowledge people who strive every day to make life better for all of us.
Not many local government meetings can be described as joyful, but these few minutes became the exception. These were moments to acknowledge what community can mean.
For the annual Jefferson Awards for Public Service, three organizations and two individuals were honored for their extraordinary service.
Of course, the ceremony also served as a celebration of all of the countless organizations and individuals who make a difference every day.
Their work isn't sexy or dramatic. The people who perform these good deeds don't often make headlines. Even writing about them invites complaints about sentimentality.
But we could not get along without these people, and if we are smart, we will never forget it.
This was a week to remind us of the value of community service and of volunteers. First came the Jefferson Awards, then The Press Democrat Community Youth Service Awards.
Here are this year's Jefferson Award honorees:
Oscar Chavez, executive director of the anti-poverty Community Action Partnership. Chavez has emerged as a leader in efforts to knock down bureaucratic walls and embrace shared objectives in confronting the county's most vexing issues.
Rick Dean, for 25 years the executive director of Face to Face and a champion of services in support of people living with HIV/AIDS. From the beginning, Face to Face has been a brave and indispensable force in the fight against this disease. Today, 2,000 local residents are living with HIV/AIDS.