Readers’ picks: Community

All of the inspiring locals and feel-good parts of Chico

Bidwell Presbyterian Church

Bidwell Presbyterian Church

Photo by Paula Schultz

Community volunteer

1ST PLACE: Nicholas Mertz

Stonewall Alliance Center, 358 E. Sixth St., 893-3336

An active member of Chico's Stonewall Alliance Center, Nicholas Mertz is a champion for the local LGBT community. But he's been named Chico's Best Community Volunteer because he also does so much more. Mertz works tirelessly for Relay for Life, raising funds for cancer research, and volunteers through the Alex Project, a local text-based crisis line for youth. Says one collaborator: “It is Chico's good fortune to have him.”

2ND PLACE: Farshad Azad

Azad’s Martial Arts Family Center, 313 Walnut St., Ste. 150, 892-2923

3RD PLACE: Jim Secola

Christbridge Ministry, 984 Myrtle Ave., 990-0822

Charitable cause

1ST PLACE: Butte Humane Society

2580 Fair St. 343-7917

Butte Humane Society is a repeat winner in the category of Best Charitable Cause, and it's easy to see why. The organization does a bang-up job of caring for companion animals and finding them loving “furever” homes. This local nonprofit's good work doesn't end there; it also helps provide low-cost spay and neuter services to help curtail the number of unwanted pets in the community. Former adopters know BHS is a cause worth supporting.

2ND PLACE: Stonewall Alliance Center

358 E. Sixth St., 893-3336

3RD PLACE: The Jesus Center

1297 Park Ave., 345-2640

Youth organization

1ST PLACE: Boys & Girls Club of the North Valley

628 Wall St., 879-5653

Since 1993, this nonprofit organization has worked tirelessly to provide the youth of our communities new opportunities, so it's no wonder it continues to take home the honor of Best Youth Organization. At the club, kids can play games, get help with homework, socialize outside of school and just be kids. The organization is committed to offering children education and career skills, character and leadership development, health and life skills, exposure to the arts, as well as sports, fitness and recreation.

2ND PLACE: Girls on the Run of Butte County, 636-0786

3RD PLACE: Youth for Change

578 Rio Lindo Ave., Ste. 3, 894-5933

Local personality

1ST PLACE: Linda Watkins-Bennett

CBS 12 and NBC 24

You've seen her on TV, the trusted face producing and anchoring our local news, for decades. You may also have seen her around the community, judging parades (and the Keep Chico Weird Talent Show!), or as a friendly volunteer and mom. Last year, the Chico native was even named an “Official Chico Icon” by the popular facebook group “You Know You're From Chico When … ”

2ND PLACE: Megan McMann

CBS 12 and NBC 24

3RD PLACE: Mike “G-Ride” Griffith

G-Ride Pedi Cab, 354-9885

Community event

1ST PLACE: Chico Certified Farmers’ Market

It doesn't get much better than shopping for produce picked that very morning from local farms. But that's what Chicoans can expect every Saturday (rain or shine!) from the fantastic Chico Certified Farmers' Market at the corner of Second and Wall streets. That's where visitors will find rows of fresh fruits and veggies, as well as jams, other tasty treats, plants and trees, unique crafts and art and other locally made wares. The market is a Chico experience that is not to be missed.

2ND PLACE: Taste of Chico

3RD PLACE: Thursday Night Market

Place to volunteer

1ST PLACE: Butte Humane Society

2580 Fair St., 343-7917

2ND PLACE: Community Action Volunteers in Education

Chico State BMU Room 308, 898-5817

Chico Chai

Photo by Howard Hardee

3RD PLACE: Jesus Center

1297 Park Ave., 345-2640

Farmers' market vendor

1ST PLACE: Chico Chai

1919 Park Ave., 897-0822

On Saturday mornings, market-goers love to stop for a locally made Chico Chai to sip while they shop. Served hot or over ice—and even in bulk—the delicious local drink is handcrafted by brewmistress Sarah Adams. Chico Chai products, which also include loose-leaf teas, are microbrewed and simmered slowly in small batches. Yum!

2ND PLACE: Rico’s Tamales

900 Cherry St., 898-1212


3197 W. Sacramento Ave., 680-4543


1ST PLACE (tie): Rebecca Brunelli

Biological sciences, Chico State

Rebecca Brunelli has a reputation for dedication to her students, and going out of her way to help them understand and appreciate science and other subject matters. She is passionate about teaching, and takes every student seriously. Current and former students report how her classes have positively helped them, not only academically, but in other areas of their lives, so it's no wonder she's so beloved.

1ST PLACE (tie): Sanjay Dev

Math departments, Butte College and Chico State

Lots of people around town know Sanjay Dev for his Devastation Sounds radio show on KZFR 90.1 FM. And apparently that chill vibe he sends out on the airwaves translates to his classrooms at Chico State and Butte College as well. Students rave about Dev's ability to explain difficult math principles, his sense of humor and his “heart of gold.” That's why they give him an A+!

3RD PLACE: Janet Lombardi Blixt

Chico Art School, 336 Broadway, Ste. 20, 570-3895

Teacher (K-12)

1ST PLACE: Carol Stein

Sierra View Elementary School, 1598 Hooker Oak Ave., 891-3117

If you're between the ages of 5 and 25 and grew up in Chico, there's a chance your life has been touched by Carol Stein. A kindergarten teacher at Sierra View Elementary School, Stein's been molding young minds for more than 20 years, bringing passion and optimism to her classrooms. “Carol Stein teaches from the heart, making staff, students and families feel special and important, with her warm smile and kind spirit,” says Sierra View Principal Mele Benz. Clearly local families agree!

2ND PLACE: Liz Albright

Little Chico Creek Elementary School, 2090 Amanda Way, 891-3285

3RD PLACE: Carin Anderson

Sherwood Montessori, 746 Moss Ave., 345-6600

Place to tie the knot

1ST PLACE: White Ranch

214 Hagenridge Road, 342-6530

The White Ranch offers lush, spacious grounds for romantic weddings amid nature. Step outside the city, to the north off Keefer Road, to discover this picturesque location, filled with flowers, fountains, vegetation and lots of cozy areas to relax. Perfect for intimate weddings or large affairs, and the freedom to bring your own food, drinks, DJ and decorations, plus the convenience of tables and chairs on-site, make the White Ranch paradise for bride, groom and everyone else.

2ND PLACE: The Palms

2947 Nord Ave., 894-8000

3RD PLACE: Bidwell Park

Place to pray

1ST PLACE: Bidwell Presbyterian Church

208 W. First St., 343-1484

Chicoans clearly find sanctuary and comfort in Bidwell Presbyterian Church, as this year they've named it their favorite place to pray. Named for Chico's founders, John and Annie Bidwell, the historic, majestic church sits on First Street in downtown, right next to the Chico State campus. Services range from joyous affairs complete with live music and lively sermons, to the more traditional, ensuring every type of prayer is welcome.

2ND PLACE: Bidwell Park

3RD PLACE: Chico New Thought Center

14 Hillary Lane, 895-8395

Place for eavesdropping

1ST PLACE: Naked Lounge Tea & Coffeehouse

118 W. Second St., 895-0676

2ND PLACE: Starbucks

Multiple locations

3RD PLACE: Chico Certified Farmers’ Market