History of the Fernando Award Foundation
Standing proud and tall in the San Fernando Valley Civic Center in Van Nuys is a magnificent bronze statue of “Fernando,” a young indigenous male from the early days of the Valley region. He symbolizes the qualities of strength, courage, dedication and leadership. The statue is the work of famed sculptor Henry Van Wolff, and serves as a monument to those outstanding individuals who have been selected to receive the Fernando Award. On June 13, 1996, an additional monument to volunteerism was installed at Warner Park in Woodland Hills, dedicated by Mayor Richard J. Riordan and other city, county and state dignitaries. It stands in gratitude not only to all Fernando Award recipients but also to all volunteers who work hard to improve the quality of life in our local communities. A bronze replica of the original Fernando stature, engraved with the honoree’s name, is presented to each year’s recipient at an event during which the recipient’s life of volunteerism is showcased. The Fernando Award is the highest honor than can be bestowed upon a San Fernando Valley citizen.
Each year the Chambers of Commerce and other community organizations and leaders in the San Fernando Valley have the opportunity to nominate an outstanding citizen in their respective communities who, through a life of volunteerism encompassing personal commitment and involvement, has worked to improve the quality of life in the Valley. A screening committee is selected, which undertakes the difficult process of narrowing the field of nominees to five final candidates. These finalists are then presented, via confidential ballot to the Foundation membership that then selects the annual Fernando recipient.
The award symbolizes that volunteerism is essential to the health and welfare of our great Valley. Through the selection of a single recipient, Fernando honors the thousands of volunteers who tirelessly serve to make the Valley a better place to live, work and play.
The Fernando Award is recognized as the leading award for civic accomplishment in the San Fernando Valley, and one of the top awards for volunteerism in the nation. The achievements of every recipient have benefited each and every resident of the San Fernando Valley and their accomplishments will never be forgotten. The award serves as a constant inspiration to the future leaders of the San Fernando Valley in their never-ending quest to make a richer life for us all.
The Fernando Award is the only award in the San Fernando Valley that recognizes the Spirit of Volunteerism. The Fernando Award Foundation believes that through volunteering, you can be a positive influence on young lives, help older individuals remain independent in their own homes, clean up the environment, offer your professional skills to local nonprofit groups, and lend your talents to strengthening our communities in countless ways.
Besides recognizing a noteworthy community volunteer each year, The Fernando Award organization also awards scholarships to students who have been leaders of volunteerism in their schools, inspiring a new generation of philanthropy.