Community award winners announced

With owner Judy Randle out of town, Crystal Palombo and Patricia Arick agreed to have their picture taken for The Cup Above. The two help with the business’ art program.

With owner Judy Randle out of town, Crystal Palombo and Patricia Arick agreed to have their picture taken for The Cup Above. The two help with the business’ art program.

One of the ways the Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce serves the community of Canyon Lake is by providing an opportunity to recognize leading citizens, groups and businesses with annual awards. The Chamber begins accepting nominations early each year and presents the awards at an annual Awards and Installation Gala. This year’s awards ceremony will be held next Saturday, March 7, in the Diamond Club at Storm Stadium.

Here are this year’s award winners.

Organizations of the Year

The two groups of volunteers responsible for providing the most family fun throughout the year would have to be this year’s Organizations of the Year: the Fiesta Day Committee and the Jr. Women’s Club (JWC).

APRIL TURNER, RN and ALEX DENES, MD - Canyon Lake Med Spa Business of the Year

APRIL TURNER, RN and ALEX DENES, MD – Canyon Lake Med Spa Business of the Year

This is the first time for the Fiesta Day Committee to be given this honor; the last time the JWC received it was in 2005.

Just as its name says, the Fiesta Day Committee is responsible for planning the granddaddy of all Canyon Lake events, Fiesta Day, which attracts well over 5,000 visitors the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend each year. It has been the “opening event for summer” for more than 40 years.

The committee begins meeting in January each year to establish a theme, then continues to meet frequently as the big day draws near. Already the committee has selected a theme for this year’s Fiesta Day: “Fiesta Under the Big Top,” with a circus/carnival emphasis.

Most members of the committee have been together several years and include Joe Grasso, Roanne Grasso, LaRue McNamara, Zayda Pascual, Mike Shroyer, Joanna Spiller and Frank Virag. Joining the committee two years ago were Cherie and Ted Schiafone of ShowCal Skiers. When the idea for the Cardboard Boat Challenge was presented, the Schiafones jumped in with their past experience in the boating/water skiing world to make it happen. They also help with the Ski Show.


JUSTIN SILVA Student of the Year

LaRue joined the committee in 2001 and Joanna in 2002 when Fiesta Day was still organized by the Presidents Council. Joanna has been chair and treasurer of the committee since 2006. LaRue is secretary and puts together the dignitary reception held prior to the parade.

Mike is the entertainment coordinator, putting together all the entertainment for the day in the Lodge and on the outside stage. He also serves as the emcee for the parade. Roanne gets sponsors for the event and provides the Kids Zone. Joe also provides the Kids Zone and creates all the signs and event banners. Zayda is responsible for the booths, collecting the applications and arranging locations. Frank assists wherever he is needed.

Working with the CLPOA Activities Department (Lynn Jensen, Carrie Pratt and Valerie Grillo), it will be up to these volunteers to put it all together by May 23. They will be hard-pressed to be able to ride in the Fiesta Day Parade – something every Community Awardee is invited to do. But they’ll all be there – tired but excited!

The Jr. Women’s Club is comprised of local women, many of them mothers of young children, who want to do their part to help Canyon Lake be the best it can be. The club’s primary purposes are to raise money for projects and events in the community, provide assistance to families in need, give scholarships to high school seniors and help ensure there are safe, fun areas for Canyon Lake’s children to play.

Some of the family events they sponsor are the Easter Carnival, Summer Splash and Winterfest Tree-Lighting at the Lodge. Last fall they held Rocktoberfest at Holiday Harbor, followed by the Holiday Boutique at the Lodge. In the past, they have held Casino Nights, Chili Cook-offs and other community oriented fundraisers.

This year, JWC is planning a new event for fall: a Renaissance Faire! This month they are holding one of their primary fundraisers for the year: the Charity Golf Tournament (March 14).

“All of these events take the time and dedication of the women who do this on a volunteer basis, resulting in more than 1,200 volunteer hours documented by the JWC,” says the person who nominated the club for the award. “They volunteer because they love Canyon Lake and want to help improve life here in different ways: by providing fun events for Canyon Lake residents, by proving food and clothing for those in need, by donating funds to help support school and club events, by awarding scholarships to graduating seniors to continue their education, by giving support at the holidays for families in need, by providing funding to the POA to support improvements at parks, and by supporting other Canyon Lake clubs’ endeavors.”

Last year, the JWC provided 27 philanthropic actions that amounted to $13,090 going out to the community. One hundred percent of funds raised go back into sponsoring the JWC’s events and supporting their philanthropic actions. Members of this year’s board of directors are President Karen Terry, Vice-President Jennifer Nahay, Secretary Christina Barton and Treasurer Fran Daniel.

Citizen of the Year

LaRue McNamara is an active volunteer in the Canyon Lake community with both the Lions and Lioness Clubs, the Home Owners Club, the Roadrunners Club and the Fiesta Day Committee. On her 75th birthday in 2012, her family crowned her “Volunteer of the Year” for her life’s achievements in giving to others.

She was born in Pennsylvania, the youngest of 13 children. She married John McNamara in 1957 and they had four daughters. Her volunteerism began early as she was a junior leader for her daughters’ Girl Scout troops for 10 years, later overseeing the coordination of 55 troops.

After John’s retirement in 1994, the McNamaras moved to Canyon Lake where they immediately got involved in serving the community. The Lions and Lioness Clubs are where she focuses most of her philanthropic efforts. She also oversees the annual Home Owner Club Holiday Home Decorating Contest.

In addition to the many philanthropic endeavors of her club involvements, LaRue has been a trustee on the Loma Linda Lions Eye Foundation board since 1997 and currently serves as president.
She was named Canyon Lake Volunteer of the Year was in 2002. “My feelings are that, unless you are involved in your community, you are just a spectator,” she says. “My motto is, ‘Happiness is serving others.’”

Volunteers of the Year

Mike Shroyer is a name and face well known in the community through his company, Good Time Entertainment, as well as the years he has spent running sound systems, playing music, and often serving as master of ceremony at such events as Fiesta Day, Taco Tuesdays, Family Movie Nights, Fireworks Show, Summer Splash, Veterans Day, the Easter Carnival, Christmas tree-lightings and more.
“But what makes Mike stand out is the charitable work he has done during his tenure in Canyon Lake,” says his nominator. Several years ago, Mike created the non-profit group, Street Carts of Canyon Lake, that conducts food drives, collects Christmas gifts for children and raises money for needy families in the community. He also is active in the food pantry ministry of HOPE (Helping Our People of Lake Elsinore).

The nominator adds, “Mike has not only provided our community with great entertainment for the past 20 years, he’s devoted much personal time to help our citizens. He is one person who believes that giving back and helping others is the most important thing one can do with your life.”

Jill Batinich is a woman who lives to help others. She is a past member and board member of the Jr. Women’s Club. With that club, she initiated and chaired the Spring Play Day for Special Needs Kids in 2011 and 2012. She is a current member of the Veterans Day Committee and Chamber of Commerce.

Jill is the owner of Classy Basket and has donated gift baskets to various fundraisers in the community. She also is the founder and owner of Serenity Sacks, a non-profit organization for helping the homeless by filling large freezer bags with hygiene essentials.

She runs two websites: Helping Hands and Basic Comforts, which help needy people find what they need from others, with everything freely given.

She has run a Thanksgiving Food Drive and Christmas Toy Drive out of her home every year since 2011. Last year she helped with Canyon Lake’s Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament.

All of this is not easy for Jill. She has raised three children, two of whom are autistic, while personally battling multiple sclerosis for the last 21 years.

Student of the Year

Justin Silva is the oldest of four children and comes from a single-parent household. His mother, Melissa Silva, says that, in spite of having to step in at a young age to help with babysitting and household chores, Justin has kept his grade point average above 4.0 throughout high school.

Justin currently is enrolled in advanced placement (AP) classes at Temescal Canyon High School and has a GPA of 4.8. He is a National Honor Society member as well as an AP scholar. His high school sports have included swimming and water polo. In January, he was named TCHS Student of the Month.

He has been active in Associated Student Body all four years and, this year, is Speaker of the House, running all the pep rallies. In addition, he volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club in Lake Elsinore, and currently is employed as a host at the Menifee Applebee’s.

Self-driven from an early age, Justin plans to be a history major at the University of California Santa Barbara in the fall. His goal is to become an attorney, help people and give back to the community.

Businesses of the Year

Canyon Lake Med Spa, co-owned by Alex Denes, MD, and April Turner, RN, was nominated for being a business that “continually goes over and above” by helping community groups through donations, as well as providing sponsorships and gifts for Chamber mixers and attending Chamber ribbon-cutting ceremonies. The business had its grand opening in the Towne Center in August 2011.

Groups to whom Canyon Lake Med Spa has donated include the Canyon Lake Woman’s Club, Junior Women’s Club, Lions Club, Tennis Club, Canyon Lake Community Theatre, Men’s and Women’s Golf Clubs, the 9ers Golf Club, Canyon Lake Little League, the Miss Canyon Lake Scholarship Pageant and Canyon Lake Community Church.

Canyon Lake Med Spa also donates to schools in the area (Temescal High School, Canyon Lake Middle School, Tuscany Hills Elementary School, Cottonwood Elementary School and David A. Brown Middle School) by providing $100 gift certificates for every school employee every year for Teacher Appreciation Week.

Canyon Lake Med Spa is located at 31360 Railroad Canyon Road, Suite 4, in the Towne Center (

There is little time and even less money to support the arts in public schools these days, but local businesswoman Judy Randle of The Cup Above continues to ensure at least one form of art is included in the children’s curriculum at Cottonwood Canyon and Tuscany Hills Elementary Schools.

In a program Judy began several years ago, she sends a coordinator to teach a free one-hour ceramics class in classrooms at the invitation of individual teachers. All materials and tools are provided free of charge.

Money for materials is provided by the “One Cup, One Child” program at The Cup Above; whereby, every cup of coffee sold in the store supports the cost of clay in the classroom. Once the children have fashioned their projects out of the raw clay, they are given a coupon for their parent to bring them to The Cup Above on their own time to paint their project and have it glazed and fired at no extra cost.

The Cup Above, located across the parking lot from the City/POA building, is a combination coffee shop and ceramics studio. Comfortable couches, tables and chairs make it a favorite place for business people to meet over coffee, or groups and individuals to paint a wide variety of bisque pieces.

Awards and Installation Gala

The Canyon Lake Chamber of Commerce is accepting reservations for the annual Awards and Installation Gala, to be held Saturday, March 7, at the Lake Elsinore Storm Diamond Club. The cost is $45 per person. The registration/sponsorship form was due February 25, but contact the Chamber for ticket availability at 951-244-6124.


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Donna Ritchie