Our Women of Distinction for 2020 are: Cheryl DeSimone, Donna Columbo and Debra Gonsalves. Each woman has given tirelessly of their time and talents to their communities. Normally we would have given them their award and gift at a luncheon event shared with family and friends in the Spring. However, 2020 is a different year and we had to give them their awards individually without fanfare but with our appreciation and admiration.
Cheryl DeSimone - 2020 S.I. Diablo Vista Woman of the Year
In 2003 Cheryl became involved with Monument Crisis Center with the outreach from her involvement with De la Salle and Carondelet High Schools, as the Chair of the Vista Oak Chapter of National Charity League, a Mother and Daughter Philanthropy and Leadership group. Cheryl began as a seasonal volunteer with her daughter Emily that soon grew into a full time commitment where Cheryl serves as Faith Community Coordinator, working on outreach with the many faith communities that support the Center. She also created the "Poverty Project" at the Center, an interactive program: educating groups in corporate settings, schools and faith communities about the many low income and at risk families and individuals in our community. Whether it is Summer Solstice, Bilingual Senior Moments Bingo, the annual Resource Fair, Backpack Day, Summer Day Camp, After School Cafe Tutoring or the myriad projects that the Center works on with other no-profit partners Cheryl is there. Also, for more than 14 years, Cheryl has supported Diablo Ballet's mission and vision.
With Donna's leadership and innovation, Trinity Center in Walnut Creek grew from a small neighborhood food pantry to an admired County-wide service provider for people who are homeless and those experiencing poverty. Her tireless devotion to helping the community has made her a well respected and trusted advisor. Her commitment to authenticity and a genuine desire to support others in their success she has helped develop innovative partnerships among service providers that has become a model for others. Her organized and strategic approach expanded Trinity Center's program to include an emergency overnight shelter during the winter weather months, a safe overnight parking program that provides transitional housing for those living in a vehicle and implementation of substance abuse and mental health counseling. She spearheaded the partnership project known as St. Paul's Commons, a 44 unit affordable housing community with supportive services. She is known for her sincerity and generosity. She is also tenacious and tireless in the fight for equality with an unwavering sense of duty and personal commitment to inspire people from all backgrounds to succeed.
Debra has worked many years to help and support Mount Diablo Elementary School in Clayton, She started a program to provide computers for the school with a $5,000 contribution, which encouraged other to contribute, that has put Chrome Books in each classroom and in the Computer Lab. She can also be found working as a monitor on the playground or pulling weeks in the school's gardens. She has underwritten lunches and provided clothing for women at the Stand shelter. She collects supplies and clothes for the "Love a Child" program in Bay Point. Debra also volunteers for the Relay for Life and Clayton Round UP events raising thousands of dollars for the Cancer research drives in Clayton. After a tornado hit Mexico, she spearheaded a collection of 850 pounds of supplies, clothing and water for an orphanage that suffered severe damage. With the help of the Clayton businesses she was also able to deliver lights, clothing, diapers, sheets, vitamins, dental and first aid supplies to the area. She very graciously opens her home for the annual Christmas Homes Tours sponsored by the Clayton Historical Society. Debra is a caring and giving person who helps those in need with a warm and generous heart and smile.
SIDV's Woman of the Year, Cheryl DeSimone, pictured at Monument Crisis Center.