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2013 Desert Gala

Richard Waxman, “Scruffy” “Paws and Hearts” Animal Assisted, Rancho Mirage

Richard Waxman has devoted most of his life to helping animals, and to helping people heal with the help of animals. He is the Founder and Executive Director of “Paws & Hearts” Animal Assisted Therapy. “Paws & Hearts” has been providing Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in hospitals, long-term care facilities, adult day care centers, Alzheimer’s facilities and cancer centers here in the Coachella Valley for 13 years. This non-profit and its 2-legged and 4-legged volunteers, including Scruffy, bring a ray of sunshine and joy to those who are in need. Scruffy is an 11 year-old Cairn Terrier mix who’s gentle and loving demeanor have endeared him to patients old and young. He knows when to settle in and give a gentle kiss and when to play. He and his friends can reduce depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and calm patients. Scruffy, and the smiles he elicits, is proof that Angels on Earth come in all shapes and sizes!

Arthur D’Souza, La Quinta

An entrepreneur with a service attitude, Arthur has shown he makes a positive impact on his community. His businesses here in the Valley not only provide full-time employment and health care to locals, they encourage employees to be fit and healthy through nutrition education, fitness classes, and more. During Arthur’s career he also worked as a rehabilitation caseworker, setting the process for injured workers to return to the workforce through motivation, retraining, and counseling. His volunteer work began in India where he served as a teacher and counselor in a school for boys. He has also worked in rural areas on farming projects, schooling for children, and economic development. Arthur’s focus on community building and maintaining a viable and healthy workforce makes him a leader and Angel on Earth in this community.

Lindalee Allison, Palm Desert

Lindalee’s service as a minister has brought her before many troubled teens, especially girls. She inspires them and gives them hope for a better life. Lindalee has touched many lives with her messages, including the girls in the Indio Juvenile Facility. Even in the most hopeless of situations, Lindalee is able to give them a glimpse of a bright future, which is sometimes all a person may need. As President of the Mid-Valley Interfaith Council, she sees firsthand the needs of young people in her community and she works to find ways to fill those needs. She has written a book for teens and created a CD for children, inspiring them to reach their full potential. Lindalee’s loving message and tireless work have made her indispensable to the community.

Jan Peters, 29 Palms

For more than 25 years, Jan has helped organize countless events in the High Desert to benefit the community. She organized the first Outhouse Race in the 29 Palms Pioneer Days, a tradition that has large community participation. She also began the tradition of a formal Chamber of Commerce Installation of Officers dinner and dance. Jan formed a nonprofit organization, Action Council 29 Palms, dedicated to bringing mural art to the buildings and then coordinated many fundraising events to keep the mural program running. Her inn, Roughley Manor Bed and Breakfast, hosts 100 Marines for Thanksgiving dinner. Most of the Marines who attend are single and away from home and truly appreciate a home-cooked meal and family. Jan also created a fund-raising effort to buy service dogs that are trained in the detection of sugar levels for children with diabetes. Jan goes above and beyond with her continued service and dedication to her community.

Cirenia Guerrero, Palm Springs

Cirenia has been the energetic voice and personality of fashion, entertainment, sports, news, and fun for both Spanish and English speaking fans for many years. She grew up in the Coachella Valley and it has always been important for her to give in service to her community. Cirenia has held various board of director positions to assist others in business development, marketing, and career guidance. It is important to her to assist others in finding their passion and becoming successful. She is currently the host of a popular radio show and has started “Charge It Up,” a motivational company that inspires others to reach their full potential. She is full of life, enthusiasm, and drive and she encourages others to tackle life with the same enthusiasm.

Gigi C. Muth, Palm Desert

The inspiration to serve can come in many forms. For Gigi, her drive to serve comes from a desire to leave the world a better place for her children, and to help those who are often left behind. Gigi’s work in business development, fundraising, grant writing, and program development has allowed local and national organizations to grow and better serve the needs of the community. Her volunteer service has included the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, the Family YMCA of the Desert, and the Ophelia Project-Healthy Family Foundation. The Ophelia Project of Coachella Valley is a structured group mentoring program that works closely with local teens. They work to set goals and steer the young girls away from at-risk behaviors. Gigi’s service provides a sense of purpose, joy, and hope for many.

Tim Cote, Indio

Life isn’t always easy, but sometimes it is the difficulties that test our resolve, force us to examine our priorities and look outside of ourselves. Tim has faced many challenges in his life and has chosen to put his lessons to good use in the service of others. He has taught and mentored “at-risk” youth for many years, as part of churches, Christian schools, and non-profit organizations. His experience makes him genuine, and his love for the children is clear as he pushes them to develop self-esteem, confidence, and poise, and to create plans for their futures. Locally, Tim is involved with the Cross Community Church, Stepping Stones Learning Annex, and The Narrow Door. The Narrow Door provides food, clothing, and ministry to the homeless in the Valley. Service has provided Tim with purpose and drive, and his service has fed many hungry for food or direction.

Robyn Madala, Palm Desert

Working with very young children is a joy and a challenge not taken on by many. Robyn’s commitment to children makes her a leader in her field. She has taught at the Preschool and Kindergarten levels for many years, creating balanced environments to help the children grow and promoting learning in all areas-Spiritual, Mental, and Physical. Robyn develops and implements enrichment programs, Church programs, and music programs. She works with special needs children as well. Robyn is dedicated to allowing children to explore, learn, and grow into their greatest potential. Her dream is to open a parent participation school in which tuition is paid through volunteer work at the school. This would involve parents and the community in the learning process, an educator’s dream. Robyn’s patience and willingness to reach out to the very young make her an Angel to many.