These seven do-gooders make a big difference in Cupertino

Community members will be honored at 2018 CREST Awards, May 30.A previous iteration of the CREST Awards. Photo courtesy of City of Cupertino - City Hall Facebook.

There are countless people who make a difference in Cupertino every day.

Some of them — like Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy Johnathan Lau, credited with helping arrest numerous suspects involved in residential and vehicle burglaries last year — deserve a little extra recognition.

Lau is one of seven winners of the 2018 CREST Awards who will be honored at Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Ave. on May 30, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. He earned the Public Safety Champion of the Year award, not just for the busts but for his professionalism during interactions with the public.

The CREST Awards is an annual event recognizing outstanding community members for their contributions and dedication to the city.

This year’s awards include seven categories of winners. “Lifetime Achievement Award” winner Alysa Sakkas is the consummate community advocate, known more recently for volunteering for the Cupertino-Toyokawa Sister Cities organization. She has also volunteered for numerous schools and the Rolling Hills 4H Club, receiving the Presidential Community Service Award annually since the program’s start under President George W. Bush. In 2014, she received the prestigious President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Obama.

“Individual of the Year” goes to Larry Dean, longtime Cupertino resident a co-founder of the volunteer organization Walk Bike Cupertino (est. 2014). Dean has advocated for safety improvements in the city for walkers and cyclists through research and vigilance.

“Organization of the Year” goes to the nonprofit inAtalent which uses talents of volunteers to bring joy to senior, assisted living, memory care and rehab facilities.  Shows have included Bollywood dancing, Indian Classical Dancing, music, and singing.

The “Rising Star” honor goes to Sarang Deshpande, Monta Vista sophomore with a long resume of community service. He contacted then-Mayor Savita Vaidhyanathan to offer volunteer services to the city, and then went on to provide the mayor with critical staff support during the City’s 4th of July festivities. Deshpande also volunteered in Cupertino’s Recreation and Community Services Department on a Teen Center Outreach Plan, and he is co-founder and CFO of Budding Leaders, an organization designed to offer free leadership workshops for youth.

The CREST Awards will honor a 25-year-old Cupertino resident as “Innovator of the Year.” According to the city, “Bob Zeidman invented the computer science field of Software Forensics, having developed the algorithms and technology behind software correlation and the procedures for identifying copied software code.”

And “Sustainability Champion of the Year” goes to Kristin Jensen Sullivan, a 21-year environmental studies instructor at De Anza College who retired last year, and who is known for inspiring hundreds of students and community members to get involved in climate protection and environmental justice issues. Her students worked with the city to certify 15 De Anza College departments as green businesses and to conduct visual trash audits to protect creeks from litter, according to the city.