A small group of civic leaders led by Pete and Paula Uccelli established The Sequoia Awards in 1990 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring volunteerism in Redwood City.
The first Sequoia Awards scholarship was for $500. Since then, The Sequoia Awards has grown significantly thanks to support from local businesses, other nonprofits, and individuals in our community who understand the importance of an active and engaged citizenry. To date, we have distributed more than $2.6 million in scholarships.
Our scholarships are based solely on the volunteerism of our honorees. Academics or participation in school-sponsored activities and athletics are not part of the criteria.
In 2023, The Sequoia Awards distributed $200,000 to 29 students representing 7 local high schools including the middle college program.
This year’s Sequoia Awards Outstanding Student Award winner is Celina Azeneth Reyes Barrera, who attends Woodside High School/Cañada Middle College. She received the top scholarship of $25,000. Celina is a passionate volunteer. In addition to her academic load, she works four part-time jobs, and logged more than 500 volunteer hours at organizations like Anthony Padua Dining Room and Second Harvest Food Bank. She also serves as president of the Cañada College Chapter of Active Minds, an all-volunteer, student-led mental health group. Her career goal is to run a culturally diverse non-profit organization providing therapy and other mental health services.
In addition to honoring local students, each year The Sequoia Awards recognizes an Outstanding Individual and Outstanding Business for their continuing volunteer work in our community.
This year, the Outstanding Individual of the Year is George Schoenstein. George is the founder, inspiration, and prime mover behind the PAL Music, Arts and Bar-B-Q Festival. He’s raised funds and volunteered his time for a multitude of causes, including the American Cancer Society, Kainos Home and Training Center, Festiv Italiano, the Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy, the Woodside High School band, and St. Pius.
The Outstanding Business of the Year is La Biscotteria. The owners, Angela and Augustine Buonocore, certainly live up to their name — in Italian, Buonocore means “good-hearted.” The Buonocores are not connected to any organization. Rather, they step up when they encounter someone in need. You’ll find them cooking and delivering meals to seniors and the disadvantaged, driving seniors to their doctor’s appointments, visiting the sick, and more.
Our mission is to inspire and recognize volunteerism in Redwood City.
“This country sure encourages competition, but I’ve learned that unity is one of the most important traits we can share in a community and despite the many hardships my family and I have endured, through the many families that I have met in my years of service I have learned to become more appreciative of all I have.”
The Sequoia Awards provides scholarships to high school seniors who are outstanding community volunteers. For many, we make the dream of a college education possible. We gratefully acknowledge the many organizations and individuals who make our program possible through their sponsorships, contributions of cash, and donations of in-kind goods and services.
Maybe you’d like to apply for a scholarship or nominate an outstanding local resident?