Madera honors Lifetime recipients


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, from left, Dr. Kanwal J. Singh, King Husein, Rebecca Martinez and Jim Myers were honored during a dinner and awards ceremony Thursday at Hatfield Hall.

 

For the first time in three years, Madera was able to honor some of the city’s most honorable citizens with last week’s Lifetime Achievement Awards.


The awards night, which was last held in 2019, allowed the city to appreciate the achievements of King Husein, Dr. Kanwal Singh, Rebecca Martinez and Jim Myers at the Madera Fairgrounds’ Hatfield Hall on Thursday.


The many in attendance also came out to honor four of the younger honorees with the 4 Around 40 recipients.


The Madera Chamber of Commerce hosted the evening and allowed Madera to pay tribute to eight deserving Maderans.


The Madera Chamber of Commerce introduced the 4 Around 40 category in 2019 (which was originally called 4 Under 40). They brought in 2019 recipient Julie Herd to talk about the accomplishments of Emlen Miles-Mattingly, Stephanie Nathan, Alex Salazar and Nick Salinas.


“This year’s honorees are an aspiring group of leaders that work tirelessly to make a positive impact,” Herd said. “They make equitable solutions for the community and provide opportunity to others. Their ability to do this effectively has made a considerable impact.


“They continue to lead and set the tone for greatness in this community. My advice to you is enjoy the moment, take your award and don’t be bashful about setting it where you can see it everyday. It’s not because you’re proud, although you should be, you should let it remind you what you are going to do next to continue to strive to be a better leader and a better human. Continue to shoot for that greatness because we’re depending on that.”


Herd also made sure to note there are more than the individuals that deserve to be honored.


“Special thinks to the village behind the recipients,” she said. “All of the recipients made it a point to acknowledge the love and support they get from their spouses, family, friends and mentors. If it wasn’t for your support, they wouldn’t have this moment to shine. It’s your sacrificial love that helped them get to this point.”


Madera County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Bobby Kahn, who will also be retiring, opened the evening by introducing a king — King Firoz Husein.


“I am the king, but of my house,” Husein said. “I am honored and grateful to be recognized by a community that has been a big part of my last 42 years.”


Husein pointed to 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient (and a member of the first group of LAA recipients) Dave Berry as the one who changed his life around.


“I remember driving from Fresno to Madera because of a guy named Dave Berry, who took a chance on me,” Husein said. “I thought, why come up to Madera and be partners with a guy whose answer was ‘no problem’? That was a turning point in my life. I thought about going back to Fresno. I’m glad I didn’t do that because it has led to a lot of good things. Once I decided to walk into his office, I didn’t go back.”


Husein remembered his good friend and is now a trustee of Berry’s living trust.


“Dave was not an easy individual to get along with,” Husein said. “If he liked you, you couldn’t ask for a better friend. If he didn’t like you, you didn’t want to be in the same town as him. I could not have asked for a more warm, kind and generous man to be a partner with. He got tired of being my partner and didn’t want half of my money. I have been blessed to have been friends with Dave.”


Husein has built buildings on four continents, but enjoys coming back to build in Madera.


“Madera has been the best community to with work with,” he said. “I’m not saying that because I’m in front of you. My company started 42 years ago. I have not found one government that has worked so well to invite businesses than Madera. Working with Bobby Kahn, the city council, Mayor Garcia and Arnoldo Rodriguez has been great. They are straight forward men.”


2014 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Stell Manfredi introduced Madera County Clerk/Recorder and Registrar of Voters, Martinez.


“This is my community where I’ve lived all my life, and don’t plan to live anywhere else,” Martinez said. “I believe the award is prestigious. It’s truly a very special honor and one of the most significant events of my professional career. When you work in elections, you don’t get awards.”


Martinez began working with Madera County once she graduated from Madera High School and hasn’t worked for anybody else since.


“I have enjoyed and have been blessed with an extraordinary career,” she said. “One that I would not have had without the help of people. I truly appreciate people helping me.”


Martinez was recently voted to begin her ninth straight term as the Madera County Clerk in June and is still passionate about her job.


“Why am I still doing this? I get this question everywhere I go,” Martinez said. “I’d like to say it was for the money, Jay Varney. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I have 49 years in with the county. Elections are very time-consuming and very unforgiving. People don’t want you to make a mistake, don’t want you to be human. I’m always excited when I don’t see myself on CNN or Fox News. We want people to get out and exercise that precious right to vote.”


Martinez continues to serve the people of Madera County because she is still passionate about her job and wants to represent those who do not have a voice.


“I still have a passion for what I do,” she said. “It’s not just a job for me. It’s so much bigger. Because you have entrusted me with one of the most sacred things you have — your vote. You only get one. That’s not to say there’s some crazies out there that are taking voting rights liberally and think they have the right to vote more than once. We’re catching them.


“The other reason I continue to serve is because I believe elected officials have a responsibility to speak for the people who have no voice. So, I stay. I also know I report to you. You’re my boss. It’s not an elected body. It’s all of you. I take that to heart. You all deserve to have someone that will ensure and protect our system of democracy. Let’s stand together as a community and protect voter rights and the integrity of the process.”


Martinez is enjoying her time as Madera County’s Clerk and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.


“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this award. I am so humbled for it. I can’t believe I’m getting an award for doing something I love,” she said.


Belva Bare, who served multiple terms on the Madera County Chamber of Commerce Board, honored her friend, Jim Myers, owner of J.W. Myers, a Chevron gas dealership.


He didn’t have too much of a speech and made sure to honor his family.


“I really appreciate this award. I want to introduce my family,” he said. “That’s all I have to say. They said I have 37 seconds. I go to bed at 8:30.”


Former Madera Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Jim Taubert was scheduled to introduce his friend, Dr. Singh, but had to pass the baton to Jay Mahil, owner of Creekside Farming.


Singh, who came to Madera in 1989, is proud and humbled to receive his award.


“I’m honored,” he said. “Lifetime Achievement Award, by meaning, there’s been a passage of time. I’ve been wondering if I’m at the end of it.”


Singh talked about how he came to Madera and honored those who helped him get to where he is now.


“It’s been a combination of opportunities,” he said. “There have been some ups and downs. There’s also a little pride involved. There’s pride in knowing somebody else is looking at what you’re doing. That’s satisfying. Lifetime achievement involves lifetime of gratitude and a lifetime of thank yous.”


Singh also made it a point to thank his Sunrise Rotarians. He has made many trips to South America to help with medical supplies on behalf of Sunrise Rotary.


“Most of my time was spent at the hospital. It was my second home,” he said. “That left little time for anything else. Until I went into Sunrise Rotary. I am so glad I did. It was so fun traveling to South America and many countries. We went to places where nobody goes.”


Singh now hopes he can live up to his Lifetime Achievement Award recognition.


“As we go forward, I hope I can live up to the expectations you have put on me and this award,” he said.