Most people around the city probably are familiar with the names of the five people who will be feted by The Orinda Association and the Orinda Community Foundation at a gala on March 10 for their contributions to the city. They’ve become well-known after years of service.
But here are few things people might not know.
Carole and Andy Amstutz, Citizens of the Year Award
The Amstutz family moved to Orinda in 1968 from Hawaii because they heard the schools were good, and they were expecting their third child.
Though the schools were indeed good, the town was “pretty white,” says Andy Amstutz. The couple wanted their children to have a more diverse upbringing so Andy asked his employer, IBM, to transfer him to Hong Kong for three years. Which it did.
“It’s so healthy to see the world from a big point of view,” says Andy. “Living in Lamorinda is not the end of the Earth even though it is wonderful.”
For nearly five decades, the couple has contributed to making Orinda wonderful for others. They volunteered with numerous organizations, including the Friends of Wagner Ranch Nature Area, the Orinda Garden Club and Lamorinda Village.
“I enjoy being involved in our community and beyond, especially helping children keep their sense of wonder alive through outdoor adventures, and by developing their gifts through piano teaching,” says Carole. “I receive more than I give. Love is something when you give it away, you end up having more.”
Despite their deep roots in Orinda, the couple never lost their global view on life. They are active in the Interfaith Team of the Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church, Temple Isaiah and the San Ramon Mosque. The team develops projects and educational programs to encourage interfaith communication and cross-cultural relationships.
Through their church, the couple has organized service trips for teenagers to help underserved communities, including those outside of the United States. Andy says the experiences are life-changing for the children. “The kids in Orinda don’t have a real appreciation of what poverty looks like up close,” he says.
But it is Orinda that has been home for 51 years.
Says Andy, “Building community here keeps me involved in practical projects to help others and develops new friendships. I join with Mister Rogers, who asked, ‘Won’t you be my neighbor?’”
Bill Hudson, William Penn Mott, Jr. Environmental Award
When he moved to Orinda in 1984, Hudson says he was drawn to the natural history and resources and wanted to learn more about it. One of the first things he learned about was the expansive Wilder development planned for the southern end of the city. He became active in efforts to successfully reduce the size of the development and preserve open space.
When his son, Parke, attended Sleepy Hollow Elementary School, Hudson said he became aware that the school district was going to put a maintenance yard at what is now the Wagner Ranch Nature Area. In 2009, he went to a meeting to voice his opposition and later ended up serving on the board of directors. He was instrumental in helping to secure funding to keep programs running. He remains active with the organization, in particular looking at ways to make it financially self-supporting while integrating the site more into school programs.
And one of those ways involved spitting pits.
Hudson was the brains behind the “pit spit” contest that takes place at the annual Olive Festival. Contestants compete to see who can spit their pit the farthest, and who can accurately hit cardboard targets.
“People have a lot of fun with that,” says Hudson who takes it upon himself to do a lot of the heavy lifting to organize the Olive and Wildlife festivals that benefit the nature area.
Hudson, who currently serves on the board of directors of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, says his proudest accomplishment is keeping the Wagner Ranch Nature Area integrated in school curriculum and available to children.
“I’m honored, but I want to make it very clear that I’m proud to work with the people that I do. They are amazing. I’m just one of them,” he says.
Bobbie Landers, Volunteer Award
Landers moved to Orinda in 1961 after someone that her late-husband Carl knew said it was a good place to live. She joined a club for newcomers, found herself hired by the Orinda Association and before long became involved in the effort to incorporate.
Once Orinda incorporated, it needed a city council – and a committee emerged to determine candidates.
“At the committee, everyone was saying it should be Dick or Joe… guy after guy. I went home and said to my husband, ‘All they talk about are guys? Why don’t we have women?’ He said, ‘Why don’t you run?’”
She did, and was the lone woman on Orinda’s inaugural City Council in 1985.
Since then, Landers has devoted her entire life to volunteering in Orinda and being involved in countless organizations, efforts and events. Her latest focuses on raising $1 million for the acquisition of Joaquin Moraga Adobe, the oldest surviving building in Contra Costa County and a California State Historic Landmark. Landers calls it “Orinda’s treasure.”
She serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Joaquin Moraga Adobe, an organization she helped found.
She also remains active in Orinda’s sister-city program with Tabor, a city in the Czech Republic. Landers helped establish the relationship.
To explain all her years of service, Landers says simply, “That’s what I do.”
“It’s kind of like eating peanuts. You can’t stop with just one. If we do this, we have to do that. If we do that, we should do this other thing. That’s what happens.”
Andy Radlow, Volunteer Award
For the past five years Radlow has been chair of the 4th of July Parade, a marathon of an effort requiring months of planning and coordinating. This year, because of work demands, Radlow won’t be the parade chair. But he has left his mark.
Under his watch, the team of volunteers for the event has grown from 15 to more than 100. And the budget has increased threefold. Radlow says this was accomplished the old-fashioned way, spending countless hours knocking on doors to get people to donate their time and money.
So why did he take on such a huge commitment?
“Back in 2012, I was at the Orinda Parade with my family and loved it, but was disappointed that there were no bagpipers,” he recalled. “I joined the Parade Committee in 2013 and lobbied diligently for bagpipers that year but was shot down by Bobbie Landers who said that bagpipers reminded her of a memorial dirge.”
So he got involved with the planning and in 2014 took over as parade chairman. The bagpipers were added.
The awards dinner to honor these dedicated volunteers takes place March 10 at 6 p.m. at the Orinda Country Club, 315 Camino Sobrante. Tickets are $65. To purchase tickets, go to http://orindaassociation.org/.