2021 Ruhkala Community Service Awards Honorees


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.

Stuart Lehman – Individual Award Honoree

Since 2006, 2021 Ruhkala Community Service Award honoree Stuart “Stu” Lehman has accumulated more than 5,000 hours of community service, acting as an additional set of eyes and ears for the Rocklin Police Department. He has dedicated his Monday nights to patrolling Rocklin streets as a member of the volunteer patrol team and worked alongside officers and staff to assist in DUI checkpoints, lost or missing persons cases, accidents, and any other situation where his help is needed.

For the past 10 years, Lehman has also led the organization of logistics for Patriot Day, a City event honoring our military and first responders.

Read more about Lehman here.

Staci Bier – Individual Award Honoree

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.

Read more about Bier here.

Compassion Planet – Service Organization Honoree

Since 2013, Compassion Planet has mentored and supported aged-out foster youth and youth from at-risk backgrounds, helping them overcome personal obstacles and become independent and employable.

Compassion Planet also provides three nonprofit businesses in the Rocklin community in which the youth receive paid work experience:

  • Deer Creek Farm: The proceeds from purchases go directly to Compassion Planet to support the organization. Here the trainees work with organization mentors to provide basic life skills and training.
  • DCF Garden & Market: This market sells seasonal produce grown in a pesticide free garden, container plants, and garden specific tools and decor. The trainees work in the garden and sales.
  • Compassion Thrift Shop: The community is able to donate clothing, furniture, and home goods. The trainees work in the shop for retail experience.

Kathie Nippert – Pioneer Award Honoree

Kathie Nippert has contributed over 15 years of service to Rocklin, and has been especially influential within the Rocklin Friends of the Library and The Rocklin Historical Society, contributing to numerous events and programs. Kathie’s dedication to learning the city’s history and immersing herself in different organizations shows a passion for the Rocklin community and evident in everything she does.

Kathie is also a graduate of 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 in 2021.

Read more about Nippert.

Father Michael Dillon – Pioneer Award Honoree

When Father Michael Dillon arrived in Rocklin on May 1, 1981. Rocklin had a population of only 7,000, and Dillon’s Saint Mary’s Church supported about 500 people. To accommodate Rocklin’s rapid growth and community, Dillon formed what is now the SS. Peter & Paul Parish.

By the time of his retirement in 2009, SS. Peter & Paul Parish had 3,000 registered families. Under his leadership, an education center, library, classrooms, and youth center were established, along with over 50 ministries within the parish.

Read more about Dillon.