By John M. Borack/Orange County Tribune
He started a company that moves people and their worldly goods. She moves people by helping kids to learn by reading as well as almost non-stop volunteering.
Joe Hammer and Andrea Palladino Perez on Friday evening were celebrated as Garden Grove’s 2023-2024 Man and Woman of the Year at the 116th Annual Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce Gala Dinner and Awards.
Hammer and Perez are both longtime volunteers in the city, and the list of the organizations they have been involved with is quite lengthy. Hammer has been a member of the Garden Grove Rotary Club for more than two decades and has also served on the board of directors of the Garden Grove Community Foundation, Acacia Adult Day Services, and the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce. “Volunteering is a very good way to help your neighbors,” he said. “It’s very fulfilling.”
Perez is the immediate past president of the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association, served as a member of the Garden Grove Neighborhood Association for several years, and currently sits on the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Arts Commission. She also works in the library at Garden Park Elementary School (part of the Garden Grove Unified School District) and has been involved in local PTA activities at various levels since 2005.
She is the immediate past vice chair of the GGUSD’s special education community advisory committee and has been part of the Lamplighter Guild at Children’s Hospital of Orange County for 11 years, where she assists with fundraising. “I wear so many hats,” she said. “I just love volunteering and can’t imagine my life without it. It’s all about community and it makes you feel good.”
Both honorees expressed surprise when informed of being chosen as Man and Woman of the Year. “I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it,” Perez said. “I’m touched and honored.” When asked why he thought he was chosen for the award, Joe Hammer laughed and jokingly said, “I have no idea. I’ve made an awful lot of friends in Garden Grove. I guess someone put my name on the ballot and too many people voted for me.”
Perez, who has lived in Garden Grove for 30 years, talked about why she feels the city is special. “Everyone supports one another and it’s like everyone is connected. There is such a true feeling of community.” Hammer’s business (California Relocation Services) moved to Garden Grove in 1995, and he told us why he has enjoyed volunteering in the community for nearly three decades. “I’ve wanted the community and the city to do well, and I’ve always been one who wants to help others. It’s the right thing to do.”
Both honorees agree that volunteering in the community is very impactful. “You never know how the smallest thing you may do might touch someone’s life,” she said.
Categories: Garden Grove