Compassionate Heart Award Recipients

Harris Nussbaum,  Retired NVUSD,
Napa Valley Non-profit Volunteer

As an educator, he “changed the trajectory of my life" of hundreds of teens, if not thousands, Many adults will talk in the community talk about how they knew Harris when they were in high school, and how his work through the peer support program profoundly changed their lives, and inspired them to also want to serve others. His work and his legacy will have ripple effects that go on and on and on.
Harris has been a teacher, a peer support program developer, and has developed or assisted in the development of numerous other programs in our community, including: Aldea, peer support programs, the ROP student store, cross age and peer tutoring, violence reduction programs, and much more.
Harris has committed himself to community service, and his list of service is longer than we have space for here, but include the Napa County Arts Council. Aldea Adolescent treatment program, California Association of Peer Programs Board of Directors, Salvation Army food service events, and he served on the Leadership Napa Valley board of directors.
Harris helped develop Creative Living Centers, a transition program for individuals from Napa State Hospital into the community and provided support for their mental health. He has served on the board for the Opera House and has been the chair for the Vintage High School Peer Support Advisory Board and the Napa County Health and Human Services Mental Health Board.

Personal Testimony “Mr. Nussbaum taught me many things about how to help others, all the while he was helping me. I went from "trouble" to being valued to valuable. Mr. Nussbaum would lay the foundation for my own career in teaching. And also my daughter's. As a high school student my daughter recreated the Peer Support program at Napa High in the same model as Harris' at Vintage. Harris Nussbaum's impact is generational.”

Corey Edwards, Napa Valley Fire & Police Emergency Info (Unofficial)

Thousands of Napa Valley residents rely on Corey Edwards every day, for accurate, timely information about emergencies unfolding in our community. Since 2017, Corey has been the Administrator of the indispensable Facebook group known as "Napa Valley, CA Fire & Police Emergency Info (unofficial)."
Fires, traffic accidents, road closures, lock downs, missing persons, rescues, and high-speed chases are reported AS THEY ARE UNFOLDING, allowing residents to get the facts in real time and avoid dangerous situations.
Corey, a computer expert, spends many hours a day providing this valuable information as a community service and without compensation.
Currently his FB group has 27,700 members.
The group is open to anyone but requires that members treat each other with respect. It's not a place to air gripes or personal opinions. It's an emergency communications group, and for many of us it's the first place we turn to for reliable information when we hear potentially bad news.
Corey Edwards is a local treasure and hero!

Solicia Aguilar Program Director, 
LGBTQ Connection

Solicia Aguilar is the program director of LGBTQ Connection.
They (pronouns:she/they/he) identifies as Two-Spirit, a term used within some Indigenous cultures to recognize individuals who possess qualities of more than one gender.

Solicia is an unwavering advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
Their empathetic approach, coupled with their firsthand experiences, underscores the organization's mission to foster a healthy, diverse, and inclusive community driven by emerging leaders. Their strategy aims to foster a supportive and understanding environment for LGBTQ+ individuals within their communities.

1.    Socials and support groups, which provide a welcoming space for members of the community to connect and lean on each other for support.

2. Cultivation of Youth Leadership Teams. assume leadership roles, amplify their voices, and advocate for their rights and those of their peers.

3. Training to various groups such as schools, police departments, medical staff, and other community businesses.

4. Support and resources for parents of LGBTQ+ children

5. hosts regular office hours for one-on-one support

6. Every Friday, LGBTQ Connection  transforms into an open art social, a sanctuary called "Free Form Fridays." It's a space where anyone from the community can come and express themselves through art, embracing their individuality.

Solicia warmly invites us into their world, sharing a glimpse into the organization's social programs, the positive impact of those programs, and the continuing struggles and triumphs of the community they serve. Solicia is optimistic about the power of personal stories and shared experiences in fostering connection and understanding. "That's what helps us connect with people. It's what makes us dynamic."

Denise Bleuel and Jim Warnock,
Suicide Prevention Council

Denise and Jim founded the Napa CO Suicide Prevention Council in 2016 after they lost their son, Quoyah to suicide. There are now over 60 agency members!  Denise and Jim remain active on the Council to this day, serving in many ways. Jim provides Suicide Prevention Training workshops for the community for laypersons, faith leaders, and professionals. Denise has been instrumental in developing a resource card for survivors of suicide and those at risk. These resource cards have been provided to all Napa Valley non-profit agencies and first responders to distribute to individuals in crisis or need of counseling. Denise is also a resource for individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide. She has answered calls from locals and around the country, providing crisis counseling, help with grief support resources.  Denise and Jim offer a one-day symposium for survivors of suicide the weekend prior to Thanskgiving. They offer opportunities for the participants to connect. Much healing takes place when survivors no longer feel alone. Denise regularly writes letters to the editor to raise awareness to mental health concerns and suicide prevention. You can find her letters in May promoting Mental Health Awareness and in September for Suicide Prevention Month and throughout the year for the ongoing media campaign. he also helped to start the Non-Profit, "If Given a Chance."
Quoyah's story, including Denise and Jim's struggles with his mental health and subsequent death, continues to be an inspiration to many. They are willing to tell their story and frustrations trying to access help for Quoyah, and offer suggestions for much­ needed changes in communities. They continue to honor Quoyah in many ways throughout the year. They love to distribute his treasured acorns to loved ones and strangers! Our Beloved Community is healthier and stronger as a result!