Article written by Community Recognition Commissioner Warren
For the past 42 years, in one form or another, Jerry Mitchell has
been involved in public service for the Rocklin community.
In 1981, Mitchell was informed by his employer that he
would need to relocate from Sunnyvale to the Sacramento Region.
So with his family in tow, the Mitchell’s began exploring for a
home when they came across Rocklin, a suburban city of less than
8,000 residents. They bought a house and still reside in the same
On April 27, City Council honored four residents and one service
organization with a 2021 Ruhkala Community Service Award.
The Ruhkala Awards recognize people for their exemplary efforts
to give back to the Rocklin community and were created in honor
of Roy and Peggy Ruhkala, a pair who worked for the betterment of
the Rocklin for over 40 years.
It often seems like Kathie Nippert is everywhere things are
happening in Rocklin. Her largest role may be as a longtime
member and current board member of the Rocklin Historical
Society, but she also serves many other aspects of the community.
She has worked on events hosted by the Rocklin Friends of the
Library, graduated from the Rocklin Chamber of Commerce’s
“Leadership Rocklin” program, volunteers for the annual “Run
Rocklin” event, and even read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”
during Rocklin’s virtual tree lighting ceremony.
The City of Rocklin could not offer the quality programs and
public services it does without the volunteers who work
tirelessly to support staff efforts. 2021 Ruhkala Community
Service Award honoree Stuart “Stu” Lehman is a great example of
someone who has gone above and beyond to consistently serve
Staci’s Helping Hands was born in 2017 when Rocklin resident
Staci Bier took on leadership of a small charitable group
and decided to run a food pantry out of her apartment. Her
mission was to simply help those in the community who are hungry.
Today, Staci’s Helping Hands has grown into an online community
with more than 2,500 members, who regularly provide food and baby
products to those in need, and deliver meals and gifts during the
Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
The 2020 Ruhkala Community Service Award winners will be honored
by City Council and the Community Recognition Commission on Oct.
27 at the Council meeting starting at 6 p.m. at the Rocklin Event
The Ruhkala Award winners are traditionally honored in April but
due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their recognition was postponed.
The City of Rocklin thanks each person and organization for their
longstanding commitment to serving the Rocklin community.
The Ruhkala Community Service Awards recognize exemplary community service efforts annually in the City of Rocklin. The awards were created to honor Roy and Peggy Ruhkala, a pair who worked for the betterment of the Rocklin community for over 40 years.
In 2007, the Rocklin Friends of the Library received the Group
Award for their continued fundraising and support for the Rocklin
The Rocklin Friends of the Library was established as a
California 501c(3) non-profit corporation on November 8,
1982. Their mission has always been to promote and support
the Rocklin Library, the Placer County library system, and
encourage community interest in libraries, reading, and lifelong
After living in Italy for six years and for a time in Japan while
working as a civilian advisor for the Air Force, Ken Yorde was
transferred to California and needed a home near McClelllan
AFB. Wanting to live in a city with good public services,
Yorde found Rocklin and moved there in 1975.
For our last previous awardee highlight, we’re looking back at
Steve Paul’s individual award from 2002.
Paul’s dedication and leadership to the Rocklin Area Chamber
of Commerce played a role in the expansion of the Hot Chili,
Cool Cars event. Steve also played an integral role in the
passage of a measure to construct Whitney High
School to accommodate Rocklin’s growing population. Paul has
continued to serve the Rocklin community and is currently the
chairperson for the annual tree lighting event.
Bryce Jessup, the President Emeritus of William Jessup
University, won the Individual Ruhkala Award in 2010 for his
volunteer work, mentorship, and efforts that make a difference in
the Rocklin area and around the world. Ten years later and now
into his 80’s, he is still creating a positive influence in many
ways on those in the community.
Will Linton, a recipient of the 2000 Ruhkala Pioneer Award, was
an outstanding citizen and leader in the Rocklin community for
many years. Linton was a public school teacher by trade, teaching
at the secondary level and eventually retired from the San Juan
Unified School District. When the Lintons first moved to Rocklin,
it was was a small city with a population of less than 10,000
people. During Linton’s involvement and leadership, Rocklin took
the steps making it the city it is today.
Kathy Lund dedicated 30 years of service to her city and
residents, served on the Rocklin City Council from 1985 to 2010
and was a six-time Rocklin Mayor. She also served on the
Parks and Recreation Commission from 1980 to 1985. Her
longevity on the Council was attributed to her philosophy, which
she said was “while sitting up there, you need to listen, listen,
think and think and then talk, and then you have to be consistent
and stay on track. I always tried to.” Lund’s major areas
of focus were planning the growth of the city, transportation,
and city parks.
Marie Huson, recipient of the 2004 Ruhkala Pioneer Award, was
truly a remarkable person and public servant. A long-time
resident of Rocklin, Huson was a financial analyst for the state
of California, subsequently became Rocklin City Clerk, and for a
period, the interim City Manager.