Pleasanton couple's dog a winning wiener

"In the seven years they have been together, Patrick Major has seen Sammy Davis transform from a playful pet to one of the fastest dachshund racers in the state. Even though he stands only about 6 inches tall, Sammy can pump his stubby little legs and leap through the air to catch Frisbees nearly as big as he is. And, this pooch was a doggie pinup in the International Disc Dog calendar three years running." Read More Here

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2017 Jefferson Award Winner for Public Service – Christopher Major, President HYA

March 22, 2017
I nominate a man named Chris Major for consideration as a Jefferson Awards recipient.
Chris is a dynamic, motivational Bay Area native with a passion for helping youth in the Bay Area realize their potential, and encouraging them to consider the possibility of attending college.  Chris has personally started two charities in the Bay Area: The Novato Chess Club and The Hayward Youth Academy.
The Novato Chess Club is an after school program for kids that also includes an arm of public speaking and leadership training.  Chris is a former teacher who recognizes that the hours of 3-6pm are the most critical time to keep kids safe and involved in constructive activities.  So he founded the Novato Chess Club as a way to do this  as it teaches chess to students in elementary and middle schools and also offers public speaking and leadership training to youth.
Hayward Youth Academy is a program that he started 2005.  It is basically an educational consulting firm for parents and it advocates for parents and children alike.  For example, if parents are having issues with schools or a teacher, and the parents don’t understand what the teacher or school is asking, HYA will go in with the parent to help get the child on the right track.  HYA also offers bilingual guidance and help for parents who might need this to better understand the teacher or school administrator.
HYA also helps parents recognize the importance of having structured activities for their children to do after school and will help them in finding resources that are available for this.  HYA is also currently helping to build a school in West Uganda: the St. Jude Community Kamwezi School as Chris is  working with Fr. Samuel, a visiting priest in St. Isabella’s Church in San Raphael who is involved with this project in Uganda.
Finally, (and this is how I know Chris) the Hayward Youth Academy and Novato Chess Club both are involved in a program Chris developed called the College Outreach Program which he started in 2007.
Chris wanted to spark children’s motivation internally and get at-risk kids to think early on about attending college.  SO, he reaches out to students in a variety of economic situations and “regardless of race, color, creed” gets them to think about attending college while they are young!
Twice a year he raises money to take mostly middle-school youth out to St. Mary’s College to tour the campus, eat in the cafeteria with the college students, hear a motivational speaker talk to them about the importance of college, and then attend a St. Mary’s basketball game. The students experience a full afternoon of college life….and they LOVE it!
When I did the speaking this last month, Chris (in partnership with St. Mary’s College) had the baseball team athletes lead the tours around campus.  Then the kids came in and had a free dinner in the actual college cafeteria (standing in line with the college students!), and then they got to hear two motivational speakers speak about the importance of setting goals, working hard, and seeking out opportunities to attend college.   Each student received a t-shirt to commemorate the day and the experience, and then he/she got to attend a D-I college basketball game.
Most of these kids had not set foot on a college campus before in their lives….and they came that day and had a whole new world opened up to them. 🙂   (It was truly a magical experience for me, too, to be involved in this!  I LOVED it….and loved seeing the kids–and some of their parents– come and for the first time in their lives, consider the possibility of college.)
Anyway, Chris Major is the man who has made all this happen.  Because of his ability to engage and mentor both youth and parents in the Bay Area, I nominate him for a Jefferson Award! 

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