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'Hometown Heroes' honored by ACCESS

ACCESS recently recognized local outstanding leaders at its "Hometown Heroes" gala held at the Rogue Valley Country Club with more than 200 people in attendance.

The honorees included:

Sherm and Wanda Olsrud 40th Anniversary Award: The Olsruds and their businesses were recognized for their decades of impact on the community by helping to feed those less fortunate. Since 2001, they've donated a truckload of food during the holidays, making sure that residents have food on their tables, officials said.

Ed Miller — 40th Anniversary Award: Miller was recognized for being a strong supporter who gives generously and quietly within the community. As a board member of ACCESS for 25 years and a respected businessman, officials said Miller helped the organization through several challenging transitions. He was lauded for serving on various committees and helping the agency in making sound business decisions and in the annual budgeting processes.

Radio Medford — Lifetime Award: Radio Medford "has been a wonderful and faithful supporter of ACCESS for many years in helping to promote events and programs," officials said. Joe and Michelle Mussio, as well as their daughter, Bella, "are true warriors in fighting poverty and are setting an excellent example of leadership and philanthropy in the community."

Rogue Valley Association of Realtors — Organization Award: "This Hometown Hero has been instrumental in helping ACCESS stimulate the local housing economy and in rebuilding lives through their support," officials said. "Their partnership helped 65 low-income families successfully transition from renters to homeowners and made dreams come true."

Rogue Disposal & Recycling — Business Award: As a locally grown business that has served the community since 1938, "this business hero has truly reached out as a friend and partner to Jackson County residents," officials said. "Their alliance in our Food Share Gardens project since 2010 as a donor of compost, as well as their financial contributions toward other ACCESS programs, helps in the fight against hunger and poverty."

Kaleidoscope Pizzeria — Local Business Award: "This popular and favorite business is a true hero in the eyes of ACCESS and our community. In addition to hosting an annual fundraiser for ACCESS, Kaleidoscope stepped up this past holiday season to push the holiday Grocery Bag food drive over its goal. ACCESS is forever grateful to Ben, Jake and Kristi for their help in fighting hunger," officials said.

Joe and Carol Neil — Individual Award: ACCESS officials noted that the Neils have supported the Applegate Food Pantry for years through an annual “Camp Crush” party. One of their last parties doubled the expected revenue, so they donated the funds raised to build a much-needed canopy for the Nutrition Department to store large equipment and boxes, freeing up space in the warehouse.

Neighborhood Food Project — Community Partner Award: The Neighborhood Food Project has grown to more than 7,000 residents throughout Jackson County, collecting food in green bags for pickup every other month. "We applaud them and the thousands of volunteers who dedicate their time to help build our community and help end hunger," officials said.

"The honorees, plus recent major contributions from the All Care Community Foundation, the Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation and so many others, have helped ACCESS meet the need in the first quarter of 2016. Now the second quarter work begins," officials said.

As the Community Action Agency of Jackson County, ACCESS has been helping local residents break the cycle of poverty since 1976. With a focus on education, ACCESS helps low-income families through economic crisis with programs designed to stabilize their basic needs and provide opportunities for long-term prosperity.