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By Allison Jarrell
At the San Juan Capistrano City Council’s Oct. 21 meeting, Mayor Sam Allevato recognized volunteer Steve Behmerwohld as the city’s Community Service Leader of the Year, and Marco Forster Middle School principal Carrie Bertini as the Educator of the Year.
Behmerwohld has lived in town for more than two decades and serves on the city’s Parks, Recreation and Senior Services Commission. Last year, he received the Wall of Recognition award, which was created in 2000 to recognize individuals whose altruistic efforts make San Juan Capistrano a better place to live.
Allevato said Behmerwohld is best known for his volunteer efforts, which include mentoring students at Kinoshita Elementary School, volunteering with the Open Space Foundation, serving as a member of the Associated Senior Action Program and even donning a Santa Claus costume each year at community Christmas functions.
“Steve is one of the personable, caring guys who is always looking for ways to give back to this community and I personally thank him for that,” Allevato said.
Behmerwohld thanked Allevato for the award, as well as his parents and daughter for setting good examples as volunteers.
“I would like to encourage my fellow citizens to get out and volunteer,” Behmerwohld said. “You get back way more than you give.”
Allevato then introduced Carrie Bertini, long-time Marco Forster Middle School principal who Allevato said has “made a profound impact on countless lives.”
“Simply mention Carrie Bertini’s name and you’re sure to get cheers and smiles as big as Texas,” Allevato said.
Bertini teaches students to focus on long-term goals, and for the past several years, she’s coached and trained students to participate in the 26.2-mile L.A. marathon.
“Of course it takes much strength, endurance and determination,” Allevato said, “but taking part in the event goes beyond that for Carrie and the students who participate each year. They feel a sense of belonging and learn to set long-term goals in a society that demands instant gratification. Carries continues to set a positive and wonderful example for San Juan Capistrano students, and we’re grateful for her efforts.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of serving this community and serving Marco Forster Middle School for 22 years, so I’ve been at Marco over half my life,” Bertini said. “It is an honor to serve this community. It is an honor to work with such an amazing staff and faculty that we have, and I’m looking forward to another 22 years.”