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To Culver City, Once-Troubled Youth Is Hero

December 02, 1990|CHRISTINA V. GODBEY

After gangs, drugs and alcohol became a way of life, David Mendenhall decided it was time to make a change.

The road to sobriety has not been an easy one, but with determination Mendenhall has been clean and sober for the past year and a half. In honor of his turnaround, the Culver City Council presented him with a commendation and proclaimed Nov. 26 David Mendenhall Day.

Mendenhall, 19, who lives in Culver City, said the biggest lesson he's learned is the importance of time and how to work with it even when times are hard. "I want to set a good example," he said. "I want to be someone who has made a difference in the community." He also attributes the turnaround to his involvement with the American Youth Awards program. Since 1973, the program has honored and awarded youths who have made positive impressions and achievements in society. At Saturday night's 1990 American Youth Awards ceremony at the Culver City Auditorium, Mendenhall was the recipient of the organization's highest award, the Founder's Award, given to a youth with a negative past who has turned his life around.

He also wrote and produced a play for the evening. "I took my own life experiences and put it into a play, which will hopefully inspire other kids to make better lives for themselves," he said. "Every kid has a chance and they just have to take it."

Tel Aviv University in Los Angeles will present its Friendship Award to Jewish community leaders Dorothy and Avram Salkin.

The Friendship Award recognizes the Salkins' contributions to Jewish education, synagogue and communal life.

A tribute gala will be held in their honor on Wednesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The West Los Angeles/Brentwood Rotary Club presented Alvin Mills with the Paul Harris Medal for outstanding community service.

In 1952, Mills founded the Brentwood-Westwood Symphony and has been conducting it for 38 years.

He was recently honored at the Rotary Club's annual Maurice Buerge Community Recognition Luncheon.

Roger Simon has been selected as the 1990 Man of the Year by the Los Angeles Men's ORT Federation.

Simon will receive the award at the 11th Annual Chanukah Brunch on Dec. 9 at the Bel Age Hotel.

Santa Monica resident Dr. Eugene Nebeker has been selected as the 1990 California Conservation Farmer of the Year by the National Endowment for Soil and Water Conservation.

The award is given in each of the 50 states in recognition of good soil and water resources management, as well as for prevention of air and water pollution from agriculture and for assisting others in learning how to protect the environment.

Nebeker, a graduate of Stanford University and Caltech, has a ranch in Lancaster.

Hugh Rappaport, a senior at Beverly Hills High School, has been recognized for outstanding performance in writing by the National Council of Teachers in English.

He is one of more than 800 national winners of a 1990 Achievement Award in Writing from the Council.

Items for People can be mailed to People, Los Angeles Times, Suite 200, 1717 4th St., Santa Monica 90401.

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