Banuelos was “choked up” when he heard people talking about their relationship with him and his accomplishments.

Larry Carr, as the night’s emcee, and Mario Banuelos. Photo by Elizabeth Mandel

By Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

The 2023 Leadership Excellence Award Dinner Sept. 9 honored longtime Morgan Hill volunteer Mario Banuelos. The event, hosted by Leadership Morgan Hill at Guglielmo Winery, celebrated his years of giving back.

The evening theme of “One Brick at a Time” reflected the honoree’s approach to building community. Banuelos serves as president of the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill and on the boards of several local organizations. He mentors new nonprofits, minority-owned businesses, and high school service clubs.

Former City Councilmember Larry Carr emceed the main event at the gala. Using the old TV show “This is Your Life” as a model, friends, family and co-workers shared humorous and touching stories.

Banuelos said he was “overwhelmed and humbled” by the recognition. He credited the many people he has worked with over the years for helping him make a difference in people’s lives.

He was “choked up” when he heard people talking about their relationship with him and his accomplishments.

“I was very moved,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to cry, but I cried because it was very touching. Hearing individuals who stood up who I haven’t seen in years, it was very nice.”

Thank you for all you’ve done, Mario!

District Attorney Jeff Rosen is asking Santa Clara County high school students to create and send in original art portraying butterflies for this year’s Justice for All Art Contest. The student art will be used to decorate the DA’s Mariposas Resiliency Center — a newly expanded center based in Gilroy to provide help to victims of violent crime. The center in downtown Gilroy is formerly the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center. It provides comprehensive support to survivors of violent crime, including on-site mental health and advocacy services.

The winner of the art contest will receive a $1,500 prize. The first-place winner’s work will also be prominently published on the DA’s website and other venues. The second-place winner will receive $1,000, and the third-place winner will receive $500.

All art mediums are welcome: paint, pencil, charcoal, photography, graphic design, or whatever your creative mind might think of.

The Mariposas Resiliency Center is named after the Spanish word for butterflies. Butterflies have become powerful symbols for three young victims of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting — 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Keyla Salazar and 25-year-old Trevor Irby — and the community’s resilience in the wake of the 2019 mass shooting.

All Santa Clara County high school students are invited to submit their work by Friday, Sept. 29. Winners will be announced on Friday, Oct. 13, on the District Attorney’s website and Facebook page.

The top three winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on Oct. 24, at the Mariposas Resiliency Center Grand Opening in Gilroy.

Entrants who do not place will be mailed a Starbucks gift card.

Details: Visit

Mount Madonna School will host a commemoration of the International Day of Peace from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. Sept. 21. Held each year, the United Nations has declared this as a day “devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.”

“The International Day of Peace is a wonderful opportunity for our students to reflect on how they can express peace within themselves, their classroom, their school community, their local community and the global community,” said Mount Madonna Head of School Ann Goewert.

This year’s theme “Actions for peace: Our ambition for the #GlobalGoals” represents a call to action that recognizes the individual and collective responsibility to foster peace.

With the increasing frequency of natural disasters the need for preparedness has never been more critical. In response to this urgency, Community Preparedness Month is back in Santa Clara County to help prepare residents with essential skills and resources for when emergencies and disasters occur.

During this month, the County’s Office of Emergency Management is engaging with the community to instill a sense of responsibility for personal preparedness.

County officials encourage all Santa Clara County residents to attend the 2nd Emergency Preparedness Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 23 at the County of Santa Clara Animal Services, 12425 Monterey Road. Attendees will have access to partner organizations that provide resources and services during major disasters and to learn more about emergency preparedness.

For details, visit