Charles Weston, Mama Mia’s and SC Interfaith Community honored

Published in the October 11 – October 24, 2017 Issue of Morgan Hill Life

Gavilan College 2017 Community Spirit Award winners for Morgan Hill are Charles Weston with Weston Miles Architects, Shauna Pacheco with Mama Mia’s and members of the Interfaith Community of South Valley.
Photo by Mark Fenichel/Fenifoto

Many individuals, businesses and organizations give much of their time and talent to enhance the quality of life for residents in the South Valley region. This year, Gavilan College gave its annual Community Spirit Awards to resident Charles Weston, Mama Mia’s restaurant, and the South County Interfaith Community for their involvement in making Morgan Hill a better place.

Gavilan President Kathleen Rose presented the awards at the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Oct. 5 at Mama Mia’s. She told guests that since 2001, Weston, co-owner with his wife Lesley Miles of Weston Miles Architects, has worked hard at the annual July 4 Freedom Run to raise money and sponsorships to support the parade, street dance and fireworks enjoyed by tens of thousands of people at the summertime Freedom Fest celebration. In 2001, the Freedom Run launched as a 5K with six runners participating in the downtown sporting event. In 2007, a children’s run was added. In 2015, the run was selected by the United States Track and Field to be part of the road racing circuit — one of only six races in Northern California. Since 2012, the Freedom Run has raised $227,765, in 2017 raising $68,668 through entry fees and sponsorships.

Weston loves running, Rose assured the breakfast guests.

“We understand that you’ve run a marathon or two?” she asked him mischievously as she presented him with the plaque.

Shawna Pacheco, Mama Mia’s general manager, accepts the Gavilan College Community Spirit Award for the business as Kent Child, college trustee, looks on.
Photo by Mark Fenichel/Fenifoto

“I’ve just completed my hundredth one,” Weston said to applause. “I ran that with my daughter, Madeline.”

The Vietnam War veteran in 2015 started a Veterans Run in Morgan Hill to raise awareness as well as money for the challenges faced by men and women who served in the Armed Forces. This year’s run will be held Veterans Day starting 9:30 a.m. Nov. 11 at First Street in downtown Morgan Hill. It will be held after the annual remembrance ceremony at the Veterans Memorial which starts at 9 a.m.

“I think a natural extension of my desire is to give back to my fellow veterans who are not as fortunate as I am,” Weston said. “This year is the third annual run and it will support four veteran organizations, two of them here in the South County, Dream Power and Operation Freedom Paws…. I’m hoping a lot of people come and support us and take some power from the organizations that desperately need funding and recognition so that veterans who generally do not want to seek help can accidentally find something that will work for them and come down the road of recovery.”

Mama Mia’s received the business Spirit Award for 2017 for its generosity in donating food and a restaurant venue for nonprofit organizations to raise funds for worthy projects. The restaurant is owned by Majid Bahriny. It was also honored as the 2015 Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.

Charles Weston accepts his award.
Photo by Mark Fenichel/Fenifoto

“Mama Mia’s donates to everything. Mama Mia’s is incredible,” Rose said. “They’ve done a lot to support us from food donations to our gala to our noncredit hospitality and tourism classes that we just started at Gavilan College. Majid has a reputation for generosity and has contributed food to many fundraisers and community causes for which we are very grateful.”

In accepting the award, Mama Mia’s catering manager Shawna Pacheco joked: “I’m glad it’s here (at Mama Mia’s) or I wouldn’t be able to go.” After the laughter died down, she continued:

“I don’t look like Majid. Majid escaped. He’s very humble. He does like helping the community, and I enjoy doing this kind of work. I enjoy helping Majid helping the community and having parties here.”


The Interfaith Community of South Valley received the Spirit Award for a nonprofit organization. The group started in 2014 when clergy of various religious traditions decided there was need for more inter-faith interaction in their activities. In August, it held a Walk for Peace and Prayer Vigil to connect the community to the core values of faith. It also started the South Valley’s first safe parking program for homeless families which enables people to stay in a Morgan Hill church parking lot in their vehicles.

Advent Lutheran Church Pastor Anita Warner accepted the honor for the group and told the breakfast guests:

“The strengths of each of our faith communities is our people. The people of the various faith communities has gone about their work and witness for many years,” she said. “I would say many of the clergy have formed relationships over the years. But in late 2014, something drew us together in a stronger way. I would say the spirit, so this Spirit Award is a wonderful thing to be presented today.”

Gavilan’s board of trustees founded the Spirit Awards in 1999 to recognize contributions to the communities which make up the college district. Rose will present another set of Community Spirit Awards to Gilroy residents, businesses and nonprofits at the Nov. 15 Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, held at the Hilton Garden Inn.


Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek