Temecula-Family and friends of three Temecula citizens, Jeff Comerchero, Mary Ann Tams and Scott Huffman, gathered at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday, Feb. 7 to honor them for upholding and promoting strong family values.
This year marked the eighth year that the church in Temecula held the Family First Award dinner and ceremony. The evening was arranged to recognize the three honorees for their dedicated community service that specifically promotes and supports the family unit within the community and in their own homes.
The event, which took place at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Pauba Road in Temecula, was an intimate gathering attended by past and present recipients, their families and friends, and community leaders. Following dinner, each recipient of the Family First award was introduced while the audience was acquainted more personally with the sacrifice and dedication of the honored individuals.
The first recipient of the evening was city council member, Jeff Comerchero. His wife, Pat Comerchero, spoke of her husband’s commitment to his own family, but also to strengthening families in the community. Jeff, a member of the Temecula city council, assists with the P.A.L.S. program that pairs at-risk youth and off-duty law enforcement, promotes the F.I.T. program which encourages fitness in the community and supports youth programs in the city budget prioritization process. He also developed the concept of Temecula’s children’s museum, Professor Pennypickle’s Workshop, and was instrumental in creating the Temecula Citizen Corps, which aims at strengthening the citizen response in an emergency.
The next recipient, Scott Huffman, was introduced by his wife, Stephanie. While Scott was nominated by a friend for his work as a principal and for his devoted service to helping at-risk youth and special-needs students, as well as his efforts on the parent advisory committee at Linfield School and as a chapel speaker and bible study leader, Stephanie focused on Scott’s amazing commitment to being an outstanding husband and father. She related many stories of how Scott puts family first by fulfilling his familial roles before work or other commitments.
The final Family First recipient of the night was Mary Ann Tams, creator of “Special Connections”, a support group in Temecula for families caring for children with disabilities. Tams had numerous members of Special Connections in attendance, and one of its long-time members, Julie Snell, introduced her friend. Snell told of her own story of learning that her fifth child would be born with Down’s Syndrome, and the love and support that Mary Ann provided to her and many others over the years. Tams was also recognized for her supervision over the “Little Church” program at St. Catherine’s church, leading a women’s prayer group, and for putting the needs of others first. It was remarked that Tams loves all of the children in Special Connections like her own.
Tracy Ham, president of the Temecula Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented each honoree with a statue depicting a united family, a framed copy of a proclamation on the family issued by the general leadership of the LDS Church in 1995, and a binder containing the family history of each of the recipients. Amidst white, flowing decorations and family pictures, attendees of the event truly celebrated the theme for the evening, “Family: A Divine Blessing."