Activists, public officials and community groups were honored for outstanding service to their neighborhoods in City Hall’s rotunda at the eighth annual Neighborhood Empowerment Network Awards on Jan. 27.
Daniel Homsey, director of the Neighborhood Empowerment Network and the event’s master of ceremonies, joked about a “District 11 sweep” as many Ingleside, Excelsior and Outer Mission groups took the stage to accept awards through out the night, taking four of the 14 awards.
After a brief speech by Mayor Ed Lee, Capt. Joseph McFadden, of Ingleside Police Station, was presented with the Most Empowering City Employee of the Year Award. McFadden attributed his success to input and prodding from the 16 or so community groups in the Ingleside Police District.
“It’s people like [these activists] that make me want to work harder for the community,” McFadden said.
The Neighborhood Youth Leadership Award was given to Joshua Cardenas, a former District 11 Youth Commissioner who worked on issues of homelessness and youth with incarcerated parents, according to Joaquin Torres of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
Since Cardenas was away at college, Luisa Sicairos accepted the award on his behalf.
“I’m very proud of Joshua,” Sicairos said. “Always take a chance on a young person because you won’t be let down by the amazing work that they do.”
The Outer Mission Merchants and Residents Association was awarded as the Best Merchant Association of the year. Joelle Kenealey, president of the association, accepted the award in front of a large group that filled the wide steps of the rotunda as Homsey joked about what the fire marshal would think.
“The outer neighborhoods are often forgotten but it’s so important to their people that are striving to make their neighborhoods a better and cleaner place,” Joaquin Torres said.
OMMRA has tackled issues related to park safety and even gangs.
“Thank you all for being here and being part of our journey, which will continue to grow,” Kenealey said.
The Cayuga neighborhood was given the Comeback Neighborhood of the Year award for many completed projects, including the reopened Cayuga Playground, disaster preparedness and organizing achievements in the senior community.
“It takes the neighborhoods to make the city, but it takes these people with me to make the neighborhoods,” Jorge Palafox said as he accepted the award.
Kenealey also won the Lifetime Achievement Award. She finished the ceremony with a short speech in which she thanked her family, friends and coworkers in the audience.
McFadden, who presented her with the award, said it was no surprise that Kenealey had won because she is “pushing and driving” so many community actions.
“I leave you with a quote from Marty Nemko,” Kenealey said. “‘You find comfort among those you agree with and you find growth among those you don’t.’”
The Eighth Annual NEN Award Winners
Best Community Green Project – The Euclid Garden Expansion Project
Best Neighborhood Watch Group – 500-700 block of San Bruno Ave Neighborhood Watch Group
NERT Leadership Award – Sylvia Borgonovo
Most Empowering City Employee of the Year Award – Capt. Joseph McFadden
Neighborhood Youth Leadership Award – Joshua Cardenas
Best Graffiti Watch Volunteer Award – Kappa Sigma Fraternity Pi-Upsilon Chapter
Comeback Neighborhood of the Year – The Cayuga
Best Merchant Association/CBD – Outer Mission Merchants and Residents Association
Best Community Challenge Grant Project – Hidden Garden Steps
Outstanding Park Volunteer Group – Friends of Joe DiMaggio Playground
Invest in Neighborhoods Project Grant – 3rd on 3rd St Project
Best Community Building Event – ART NIGHT SF
NEN Lifetime Achievement Award – Joelle Kenealey
NEN Hall of Fame – Rosario Anaya