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Three Community Leaders to Receive TCWF'S 2007 California Peace Prize

$25,000 Cash Awards Honor Leaders in Violence Prevention

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Casey Gwinn created a model organization in San Diego that coordinates and co-locates services and resources for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sexual assault. Patricia Lee works directly with community organizations and families in San Francisco to help youth at-risk for entry into the juvenile justice system. Cora Tomalinas advocates on behalf of San Jose youth and other community residents on gang prevention and other issues, and champions community organizing as a way to solve problems and influence public policy.

The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) will honor these three community leaders with its 15th annual California Peace Prize at a ceremony in San Francisco on November 14, 2007. In recognition of their efforts to prevent violence and promote peace, the honorees will each receive a cash award of $25,000. [Visit for biographies and photographs; video profiles are available on request.]

"This year's honorees demonstrate a range of approaches to prevent the escalation of violence against youth in our communities," said Gary L. Yates, TCWF president and CEO. "They are representative of thousands of unsung heroes dedicated to improving the health and well-being of California's youth."

Casey Gwinn

Gwinn has worked to prevent domestic violence and child abuse for over 20 years. He is currently the chief executive officer of the YWCA of San Diego County and volunteer chief executive officer of the San Diego Family Justice Center Foundation.

Previously, Gwinn served as the San Diego City Attorney, at which time he founded the San Diego Family Justice Center, a "one-stop shop" for domestic violence victims who need help navigating more than 30 city and county departments. The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized the Center as a national model. Gwinn assists communities nationwide and internationally in developing co-located service centers for victims and their children.

"In America, we raise our criminals at home," Gwinn said. "Once we understand that, we should focus on what healthy relationships look like, what we are doing with children early on, and how we can break the generational cycle of violence. We have to start loving these children at five instead of locking them up at 17."

Patricia Lee

Lee has served as a deputy public defender in San Francisco since 1978 and has been practicing in the juvenile courts since 1981. She is currently the managing attorney of the San Francisco Public Defender's juvenile office, and co-director of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, which seeks to improve the quality of representation provided by juvenile-delinquency attorneys.

Lee supports efforts to work with low-income community members directly impacted by the juvenile justice system. She is a founding member of Bayview MAGIC (Mobilization for Adolescent Growth in our Communities), a collaboration of 25 agencies in San Francisco's Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood that develops and implements strategies to reduce youth violence.

"If you have the right support services, the ability to work with the families, the ability to give a voice to and empower young people from within their own communities, the majority of youth will transition successfully out of the juvenile justice system," Lee said.

Cora Tomalinas

A former nurse, and a current full-time volunteer and community activist, Cora Tomalinas has been an advocate for health and peace for three decades. She currently works with the San Jose Police Department and other community entities to combat gang crimes and provide educational opportunities for at-risk youth. Tomalinas was recently asked by city officials to serve on the City of San Jose's delegation of the California Cities Gang Prevention Network, a collaborative in 13 cities of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency and the National League of Cities.

Tomalinas is also chair of the San Jose's First 5 Commission and a board member of the San Jose Education Foundation. In her community work, she strives to connect systems and services to that they work together effectively and provide the support parents need to keep their children healthy and safe.

"My passion is community organizing," Tomalinas said. "I believe that you develop community one person at a time. I think that when people come together to look at a problem and really work together to do something about it, then we can prevent violence."

The California Wellness Foundation is an independent, private foundation created in 1992 with a mission to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention.

The Foundation prioritizes eight issues for funding: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy prevention, violence prevention, women's health, and work and health. It also responds to timely issues and special projects outside the funding priorities.

Since its first founding in 1992, TCWF has awarded 4,930 grants totaling more than $601 million. It is one of the state's largest private foundations, providing an average of $50 million in grants each year in pursuit of its mission. Please visit TCWF's website at for more information, including a newsroom section devoted to the California Peace Prize and the three honorees. High-resolution photos are also available.

SOURCE The California Wellness Foundation
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