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Goodwill's Employee of Year Born Without Arms, Works With Feet

March 21, 1991|LEE HARRIS

Manuel Olivares was born without arms, but he still drives a car and works eight hours a day at Goodwill Industries in Long Beach, separating donated clothes that can be cleaned and resold.

Olivares, 26, who must rely solely on his feet to drive and perform his job, was named the organization's Employee of the Year for 1990.

"He is such a remarkable young man," said Judy McNulty, director of development at Goodwill. A co-worker, Edelmira Albanez, added: "He's an excellent worker. He is very independent."

Albanez said Olivares is also very considerate of others. "He has given me rides home in his car. He is a very safe driver."

Recently, the Paramount resident drove his specially equipped car to a small town near Acapulco to pick up his mother and bring her to California to receive cancer treatment.

Olivares, the youngest in a family of 18 children, came to the United States about 11 years ago. "I was seeking a better way of life. I was looking for money to earn and send back to my father and mother." He worked several years repairing wheelchairs at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center before joining Goodwill about four years ago.

"I was very surprised to be chosen (employee of the year)," said Olivares, who received a plaque and $100.

He said the award has given him additional incentive to seek a better-paying job, and to return to school. Olivares said he wants to take accounting classes initially, but his longer-range goal is to become a lawyer.

Five former athletes have been inducted into the Whittier College Athletic Hall of Fame.

The group includes basketball players George Hightower and William H. Moore, swimmers Patrick Mathews and Nani Nielson, and cross-country runner Josie Pettross.

Hightower was co-captain of the 1977-78 team, which won all 12 of its conference games. During a four-year period from 1945 to 1949, Moore scored a record 1,625 points.

Mathews was the college's first male swimmer to earn All-American honors. He received the honor in both 1978 and 1979. Nielson holds school and conference records in swimming, while Pettross set school track records in four events, including the 1,500-meter run. She was named to the All-Conference team in both 1979 and 1980.

* Robert Tripp's honesty recently earned him a commendation from the City Council of Commerce. Tripp found $17,000 in cash in a bag that had been dropped on a city street. He turned the money over to the Sheriff's Department, which returned it to the owner, the Vernon Commerce Credit Union.

* Montebello Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Salazar has been appointed to the National League of Cities Human Development Policy Committee. Salazar was also appointed as a member of the League of California Cities Public Safety Policy Committee. She will help develop policy on such issues as employment, immigration, police and fire safety programs.

* Cal State Long Beach senior Brett C. Sporich won first place in this year's William Randolph Hearst Foundation In-Depth Writing Competition. Sporich will receive a $1,500 scholarship for his winning article, "Immigrants--Clinging to the Past, Struggling for a Future," which appeared in the Daily Forty-Niner, the university student newspaper. The university's journalism department will receive a matching grant. The foundation provides more than $200,000 in scholarships and grants to student journalists and journalism schools participating in the annual contest.

* John Zaragoza of Santa Fe Springs is the first recipient of the Lorenzo Sandoval Merit Award, named in honor of the Santa Fe Springs councilman who died last year. Zaragoza received the honor for his volunteer work with the Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. He has been a volunteer with the organization's outpatient center in Santa Fe Springs for about a year.

* Long Beach City College Supt. Beverly O'Neill has received the Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award for outstanding service to the state community colleges. A 30-year employee of the college and its superintendent the last two years, O'Neill received the award from the Assn. of California Community Colleges.

* Daniel Nakamura, a 1978 graduate of Rio Hondo College near Whittier, is one of seven outstanding community college graduates from across the nation to be chosen 1991 Alumnus of the Year by the American Assn. of Community and Junior Colleges. Nakamura, a computer specialist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Greenbelt, Md., is considered one of the finest origami artists in the world. Origami is the ancient Japanese art of paper folding.

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