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Personal Best

For Nominees, Volunteerism Is Way of Life

September 11, 1997|DIANE WEDNER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Horace Heidt could have just relaxed on hot summer Sundays for the past 15 years, but instead the bandleader and community volunteer chose to bring free concerts to music enthusiasts at Warner Park in Woodland Hills.

"The Concerts in the Park series is one of my favorite charities," Heidt, 50, said. "Music can lead to community involvement and music can do a lot of healing for a community."

Serving as honorary chairman of the Valley Cultural Center is only one of many volunteer efforts for Heidt, a finalist for this year's Fernando Award, which annually honors one person for outstanding community service.

"To me, volunteerism is a way of life . . . I just believe community projects protect families, and society is built on the strength of family," Heidt said. "Things don't work as well if we don't get involved."

Heidt brings his strong family values and his business skills to the New Directions for Youth, where he helps at-risk kids receive job training.

When he's not conducting concerts or running his large apartment complex in Sherman Oaks, the former musical director for the Los Angeles Raiders and 1992 California Assembly candidate can probably be found planning a fund-raiser to benefit the community.

"The Fernando Award nomination is the greatest honor of my life. I'm amazed I was selected. And very proud."

Terry York, another Fernando Award finalist, is singing a similar tune.

"I'm not sure I deserve the honor," he said. "There have been such great people who have gotten the award before me. I am thrilled."

The Agoura Hills resident, who owns six auto dealerships, is a longtime volunteer. His fund-raising efforts for the City of Hope earned him the 1978 "Spirit of Life Award," and he has received numerous other honors over the years for his community work.

York's beginnings in Joliet, Ill., where he "started out with nothing," played a big part in the philanthropic endeavors he has thrust himself into during the last 2 1/2 decades.

"I have a tremendous work ethic," said York, 61, who shows up for work seven days a week. "Part of that is giving back to the community."

His greatest pleasure comes from his work at North Hills' Penny Lane, a residential home for troubled and homeless kids. York and his wife, Carole, visit and counsel the children, and at the holidays take over a local restaurant, where they treat all the kids to dinner.

"It's a most satisfying experience," York said.

The three other Fernando nominees have all been finalists for the award in recent years:

* Kenneth C. Banks Jr., a North Hollywood insurance broker active in the Rotary Club, the East Valley YMCA, the Police Activity League and the NoHo Arts District.

* Walter W. Mosher, president of Precision Dynamics Corp. in Pacoima and past chairman of the Valley Industry & Commerce Assn.

* Philip A. "Flip" Smith of Woodland Hills, owner of Flip's Tire Center in Van Nuys and president of the Mid Valley Chamber of Commerce. He is an anti-crime activist and organizer of youth programs.

The 39th annual award will be presented at a dinner Nov. 7 in Warner Center.

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