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2011 Person of the Year

May 04, 2011 07:47AM, Published by Style, Categories: In Print


Photos by Dante Fontana



Philanthropists, activists, heroes, survivors and downright good people – these are the folks in our community who we unknowingly cross paths with daily, but this month Style raises them to their deserved pedestals and shares their award-winning stories.

Allow us to introduce to you the nominees and winner of the 2011 “Person of the Year” award as voted by you, the readers. So, without further ado, the winner is…

Claudia Cummings

ABOUT THE WINNER, CLAUDIA:  “Life in service for me, I have found there is no other nourishment.” For over 40 years, Claudia Cummings has woven herself into the fabric of Folsom through her involvement in almost every aspect of Folsom growth and development. From her work as former president of the Folsom Business and Professional Women’s Association, to her long involvement with the Folsom Chamber of Commerce and her involvement with countless local boards and associations, as well as being one of the namesakes of Cummings Family Park and The Cummings Emergency Pavilion at Mercy Hospital, Claudia Cummings is as much a part of Folsom as Folsom is a part of her.  

It was Cummings’ early admiration for historic Folsom icon Artie Davies that first inspired her to serve the Folsom community. “(Artie) was always the most inspiring woman for progress, opening her arms to build the community and letting it grow, where many people would say ‘Okay now we don’t want to change anything.’ She was really my inspiration.” One of Cummings’ first community projects involved teaming up with recently-departed legend “Folsom Jim” Philips to help save the Southern Pacific Railway Depot, eventually housing the Chamber of Commerce as it still does to this day. It was partly thanks to Cummings that Folsom has an ordinance that all City parks be named after Folsom residents; which led to the naming of Bud and Artie Davies Park.

Although this year Cummings has been devoted to caring for her ailing mother, she has still served the Folsom Lake Community Concert Association, the advisory board for the Folsom Ballet, the foundation board for the Mercy Hospital of Folsom, and the Chan House project on Sutter Street that will bring a long-awaited Chinese history museum to Folsom. Yet Cummings is genuinely surprised by her nomination. “It took my breath away! I was feeling like I hadn’t been doing as much volunteering this past year as I usually like to, but then my girlfriend reminded me ‘You chaired this, and you did that,’ and I thought, ‘Well, I guess I did more than I thought I had!’”

Favorite charity?  I don't want to say a favorite because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
Perfect happiness is…? Having good health and being able to give back.
Best piece of advice you were ever given? From one of the older gals [from Artie Davies' circle of friends], when I asked her how she kept doing it, she said, “Just put your head down and keep swimming.”
Favorite local restaurant: Fat's Asia Bistro
Favorite local landmark: Rainbow Bridge
Favorite book: Dr. Seuss books
Favorite movie: The Edge
Favorite indulgence: Taking time with my four grandchildren and spoiling them.
What's your secret passion? I hate people throwing trash out of their car windows, and graffiti.

>> READ ON FOR THE OTHER NOMINEES...

Jason Froehlich

ABOUT JASON:  Jason Froehlich is the owner and operator of Folsom Martial Arts Center. A United States Marine, Froehlich was team captain of the All Marine Corps Taekwondo Team from 1997-1998 and has been training in martial arts for 20 years, and teaching for 18; he is a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo, second-degree black belt in Hapkido and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Froehlich has devoted his life to martial arts and its teachings (inspired by a childhood TV show about a benevolent ninja!). “I love martial arts and teaching others the magnificent lessons and lifelong benefits people can gain through martial arts.” Froehlich enjoys offering life-building skills to young children, helping teens to become leaders, and teaching adults real-life self defense skills to relieve stress in their daily lives. He loves the family-oriented community of Folsom, and has found that people love getting involved in what their children are doing. “After 20 years of training and teaching, I still love both very much. I train all the time, and what I enjoy the most is watching others find what martial arts does for them. For the young men and women and adults who are training at the school, they will never forget what they are given. This makes it special to know that what you give them will help shape their life,” Froehlich says.

His selfless dedication to shaping our young children, teens, and adults has made him a valued member of the Folsom community. Personally, he is in awe of the nomination. “The students and everyone voting for me is very humbling and heartwarming. I am honored to have been nominated and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be Person of The Year.”

Q & A:

Favorite Charity? Disabled American Veterans.
Perfect happiness is…? Having the freedom to do what I want, when I want and with the people I want.
Best piece of advice you were ever given? To follow my dreams and do what you want to do in life.
What is your motto? “Shut up and train.”
Favorite local restaurant? Chicago Fire Pizza.
Favorite local landmark? Folsom Dam.
Favorite Book? The Magic Of Thinking Big by David Schwartz.
Favorite Movie? Ip Man.
Favorite indulgence? Yogurt.
What’s your secret passion? Martial arts and business.


Jim Pelley

ABOUT JIM:  It’s not everyone with a sense of humor that chooses to teach others how to laugh, but that’s what Folsom local Jim Pelley, owner of Laughter Works Seminars, has done. Pelley has had a varied comedy career, working as a stand-up comedian in college, as a contributing writer for Saturday Night Live and then in 1985 forming Laughter Works Seminars, which is aimed at using humor to help people become more creative, more productive and less stressed in the workplace. Pelley has been in Folsom for the past 10 and a half years.

How could you not love your job when you’re Jim Pelley? “What’s not to love? I get to travel the planet and talk about laughter and how it helps people,” agrees Pelley.

Over the years Pelley has been a valued contributor to the Folsom community, having been a founding organizer of Folsom Lake Bank, past chairman of the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, member of the Board of Directors for the Folsom Economic Development Corporation, and the Folsom Tourism Bureau. Pelley says, “Folsom has such a wonderful sense of community... [not to mention] quality of life, great bike trails; 5,000 people show up when we light a Christmas tree!”

His thoughts on being nominated for Person Of The Year? “Speechless, which is really funny considering I make my living by speaking. Very humbled, and truly honored."

Q & A

Favorite charity? This is very difficult for me since I have connections to so many in the Folsom region – Play For All, Mercy Foundation, Twin Lakes Food Bank and Powerhouse Ministries.
Perfect happiness is…? Glass of wine on the back deck with my wife and several cats that seem to call our house, home.
Best piece of advice you were ever given? Do you want to be right or happy?
What is your motto? “Never give up, and if at first you don't succeed....see if the loser gets anything.”
Favorite local restaurant: Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar and Karen's Bakery.
Favorite local landmark: Powerhouse (State Park, not the bar...oh wait, both) and the little known "Chinese Diggings" in Folsom, such a great part of our Gold Rush heritage.
Favorite book: Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.
Favorite movie: Stand By Me.
Favorite indulgence: Massage.
What's your secret passion? Social media – I love how it connects people with everything; recreational vehicles - I love motorhomes and have had several including a 40' bus RV (the kind rock stars tour in).


Lynn Solberg

ABOUT LYNN:  Lynn Solberg has been general manager/owner of the Lake Natoma Inn for eight years, and in her words, “there is absolutely never a dull moment running a hotel.” Busy as a hotel owner might be, Solberg has been more than instrumental in helping revitalize Old Folsom, and she has done so not just through the rejuvenation and remodeling of the Lake Natoma Inn, but through serving the Folsom Community in a myriad of ways too – from sitting on the board of directors for the Folsom Historic District Association, the Folsom Economic Development Corporation and the Folsom Tourism Executive Committee, as well as serving as treasurer of the Folsom Tourism Board of Directors. Lynn has found that the people of Folsom are “very community oriented and passionately driven, especially those associated with the Folsom Historic District.”

Her reaction to the nomination for Person Of The Year was humble; “I feel it is an incredible honor to be nominated as I work/volunteer alongside some amazing people. I love living and working in the area and appreciate all of the great people I come in contact with.”
It appears they love you too, Lynn!

Hey Lynn: what's the best thing about living in Folsom? “Weather, dining and things to do.” And? “Only about an hour plus away from Tahoe..” And? “..And only 1.5 hours away from the San Francisco Giants!” That's what we thought!

Q & A

Favorite charity? The Lance Armstrong Foundation (livestrong.org) and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Perfect happiness is…? Being in Southern Africa.
Best piece of advice you were ever given? “Once someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
What is your motto? “Work hard. Play harder.”
Favorite local restaurant: Fat’s Asia Bistro and Sutter Street Steakhouse.
Favorite local landmark: Folsom Historic District.
Favorite book: Eat Pray Love.
Favorite movie: Out of Africa.
Favorite indulgence: Travel.
What's your secret passion? Travel (I’ve been to 44 countries, and lived in Morocco for almost two years and Botswana for almost a year). Riding my Harley with my 3H1M gang and the World Champion San Francisco Giants! I’ve seen five of the original seven Natural Wonders of the World and have actually been to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe twice!
Favorite mountain country: Norway
Favorite island in the world: Bora Bora, Tahiti
Next trip: Greece, Turkey, Italy, Monaco, France and Spain this May
Favorite scuba dive: Great Barrier Reef, Australia


Glen Swedelson

ABOUT GLEN:  It is well known that athletes are the superstars of the modern era. In the NBA or the NFL, one barely has to seek recognition for it to be awarded, merited or not. In the teaching profession, laurels are much harder to come by. Our schools are filled with superstars, yet those outside of the school community may never know their names. In guidance counseling, success is achieved on behalf of students and that success is hard-won. Personal recognition is rarely, if ever, sought.

But the time has come for Glen Swedelson, director of guidance at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, to receive his due recognition from the community of El Dorado Hills and beyond. Swedelson has been with Oak Ridge for almost 30 years and still finds his position rewarding; “I enjoy helping teenagers deal with day-to-day challenges, setting and accomplishing academic and personal goals, and the pursuit of post-secondary educational options.” Over his nearly 30 years at Oak Ridge, Swedelson has been a key to the academic success of Oak Ridge High School, leading to national recognition in 2008 with the achievement of Blue Ribbon School status, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education for superior standards in academic excellence. 

“I am honored and humbled by my nomination. I have never sought any recognition for the years of service devoted to helping teenagers and their parents in my 30-year career, but it is nice to know that the community has noticed.” It's hard not to, Glen.

Swedelson's lengthy tenure might have something to do with the dedicated parents, fabulous climate and charm of a small-town atmosphere he has found in his time in El Dorado Hills. “It's a friendly place to work.” Throughout the years, Swedelson says he has found the El Dorado Hills community to be friendly, caring and very involved in the education and wellbeing of its children. 

Q & A

Favorite charity? Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Perfect happiness is…? Being with my wife and best friend, Darcie, by our pool on a beautiful summer day.
Best piece of advice you were ever given? Treat people with respect and dignity throughout your life.
What is your motto? “Two wrongs do not make a right.”—my mother
Favorite local restaurant: Sizzler and Bella Bru.
Favorite local landmark: The “rock” on El Dorado Hills Boulevard.
Favorite book: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.
Favorite movie: Dances with Wolves.
Favorite indulgence: Pumpkin pie.
What's your secret passion? I love sports, politics, and financial planning. How many people read Yahoo! sports daily and Morningstar reports?


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