Josue Sanchez Rodriguez accepts a Rotary Club of Morgan Hill vocational grant, which he plans to use in his ironwork and seasonal firefighting work, at the club’s May 8 meeting. Rotary Club presenters pictured at the May 8 meeting are President Mario Banuelos, Rosy Bergin and John Kelley. Contributed photo.

Rotary Club of Morgan Hill awarded $9,200 through seven Darren Dean Vocational Educational Grants at the club’s May 8 meeting. 

According to a press release from the local Rotary Club, the grant recipients and their fields are Mary Grecu, massage therapy; Iryna Barchuk, wig making, makeup artistry and hair extensions; Dmytro Barchuk, landscaping; Josue Sanchez Rodriguez, ironwork and seasonal firefighting; Osiel Vazquez, plumbing; JJ Thompson, welding and sheet metal; and Bryan Leon, construction.

The next cycle to apply for a grant is scheduled to open Sept. 1.

“Rotary Club of Morgan Hill is excited to honor those that will play a pivotal role in creating a better life for our community through skilled labor,” said Rosy Bergin, co-chair of the vocational committee. “Skilled labor refers to workers who perform hands-on work and possess abilities, training and safety-minded expertise within their industry. They bring proven experience and knowledge to job sites and construction businesses. 

“People engaged in the ‘trades’ make a lasting and meaningful impact on society. They create homes for our families, structures for our profession, and transform the ordinary into the magical. Rotary Club of Morgan Hill is honored to create a program to assist members of the community in their endeavor to be a part of this critical profession.”

The scholarship is named in honor of Darren Dean, a Morgan Hill-based painting contractor who bridged the gaps between his profession, community service and being a community leader, says the press release. Dean was an entrepreneur who ran a successful business and managed to figure out the right work-life balance. 

Dean served as a mentor, helping to provide people with opportunities to change in their own lives and those around them, according to the Rotary Club. 

 “From the traditional trades like construction, to those that equally impact others, like music, cosmetology, and culinary arts, Darren inspired many to pursue their passion. In honor of Darren Dean, Rotary Club of Morgan Hill created the Darren Dean Vocational Education Grant,” Bergin added.

The Darren Dean Vocational Education Grants offer financial support to people seeking a career in the trades, and can be used for education and training, as well as tools and supplies, says the press release. Individual grants up to $2,000 are available to eligible applicants each year. Information on application will be on the club website,,  by Sept. 1.

Students receive $26K in scholarships

The Rotary Club of Morgan Hill also recently awarded $26,000 in college scholarships to 24 local high school seniors, says another press release from the local club. 

The $2,000 Ralph and Rose Fitzsimmons Agricultural Scholarship for outstanding achievement and commitment to agricultural studies was awarded to Addyson Soderquist of Sobrato High School.

The $2,000 William Staples Music Scholarship for outstanding achievement in music studies was awarded to Aaron Orozco of Sobrato High School. 

Live Oak High School recipients of $1,000 scholarships for outstanding academic achievement were Sofia Barreras, Daniela Colorado, Yulissa Hernardez, Daniela Moreno, Veronica Orozco, Jennifer Ramirez, Jocelyn Ramirez, Ray Ramirez, Cristal Robles Carmon, Jasreen Toor and Vuu Phuong.

Sobrato High School students receiving the $1,000 academic achievement scholarships were Faith Fernandes, Stella Gaudy, Melissa Hansen, Rachel Hoge, Veronica Howard, Aiden Last, Paola Ledesma, Brian Naranjo Leon, Alyssa Mendoza and Khush Patel. 

Rotary’s Scholarship Committee is Mike Johnson (chair), Tracy Newquist, Craig Van Keulen and Mario Banuelos. 

Rotary Club of Morgan Hill is a part of Rotary International, a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world, says the press release. One major emphasis of the local club’s focus is on the community’s youth.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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