2023 - MLK Legacy Award Recipients
MLK Legacy Award Recipient - Kelly O'Lague
Kelly began her Pleasanton journey as the Executive Director of the Tri-Valley YMCA where she oversaw and built up many of the Y programs to benefit children and families in the Valley including the Y-Kids Child Care Programs, Y Summer Day Camps, the California Youth & Government Program and the YMCA’s signature father-child programs, Y-Princesses and Y-Guides. During Kelly’s tenure, thousands of kids were able to engage in memory-making programs aimed at building character and strengthening development. Under her leadership the Y received federal funding in support of a mentoring program for at-risk middle school students. The program paired at-risk students with caring, responsible adults to provide academic and social support and positive life coaching. After six years as the ED at the Tri-Valley YMCA, Kelly was asked to step up into a VP/Regional Executive Director position to oversee two additional YMCAs in Hayward and Fremont. Eventually, she was promoted to Vice President of Youth Development for the entire YMCA of the East Bay which encompasses all of Alameda and Contra Costa County.
Shortly after starting at the Tri-Valley YMCA, Kelly joined the effort to establish the Pleasanton Community of Character Collaborative as a 501(c)3 organization and was a founding board member. Her passion for helping every child thrive were very much aligned with the work begun by long-time community leader, Juanita Haugen to support and implement good character traits in every aspect of community life. In 2009, Kelly was asked to serve as the President of the Board and she has led both the fundraising efforts and participated in the planning of the Collaborative’s special events including the annual awards luncheon and the scholarship selection process.
In 2018, Kelly left the YMCA to assume the position of CEO at Child Care Links. She shepherded Child Care Links through a period of growth and expansion, including the merger with Family Services Counseling and Community Services Association, and re-branded the merged organization to become Hively. Kelly’s longtime dream came true in early 2022 when Hively opened a family resource center, a free store for local families in need where they could access necessary services as well as get diapers, food, clothes and shoes and necessary household goods and furnishings. Under Kelly’s leadership, Hively was recognized by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan as a 2020 California Nonprofit of the Year.
While at the Y, Kelly worked with former Dublin City Mayor Guy Houston to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through an annual fellowship breakfast. The event has become an honored tradition in the Tri-Valley gathering elected officials, community leaders, philanthropists and business leaders who honor Dr. King’s legacy each January. When Kelly moved to Child Care Links, the local Y organization decided not to continue the fellowship breakfast. Not wanting to lose the community’s tradition of honoring Dr. King, Kelly approached her fellow board members on the Community of Character Collaborative and they enthusiastically agreed to take over as hosts of the fellowship breakfast.
Recently, Kelly accepted a position as the President and CEO of the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette in Portland, Oregon. For 100 years, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette has been working to meet the needs of vulnerable families. Through their Resilient Families Initiative, the United Way is building a more equitable and inclusive region where all families have the resources and opportunities to thrive. While Kelly spends most of her time in Portland now, and loves living just a few minutes from her son, daughter-in-law and two adorable grandchildren, she is keeping her residence in Pleasanton and plans to continue to divide her time between the two communities.
We appreciate all that Kelly has done for Pleasanton and those in need in the Tri-Valley.
She has been an outstanding leader in the nonprofits she’s served and as the chair of the Community of Character Collaborative. She is always passionate about our mission while being compassionate and loving toward the members of our community. We all were saddened with her move to Portland but look forward to seeing her when she is in Pleasanton. We wish her the best while she provides leadership at the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette.
MLK Legacy Award Recipient - Ronnie Forbes
Ronnie joined the military in 1984, and served in Korea for three years. After being discharged by the Army, Ronnie suffered from PTSD, which led him to leave his wife, children, and support network, and to live on the streets. Unforgiveness drove him to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. He was homeless in Oakland and Hayward, and was in and out of jail multiple times.
During his last stint in jail at Santa Rita, God gave Ronnie a grace-filled moment of intense clarity. He told Ronnie that he was either going to serve God behind the walls of prison, or he’d serve God outside the walls of prison. But one way or another, he would serve.
Ronnie made his decision.
He went back to the places where he’d been homeless, and started delivering food where he’d once stood in line for a meal himself.
Motivated by his experience of homelessness, and having stood in those same lines where he was now delivering food, Ronnie felt called to do even more. He organized One Nation Dream Makers so that others could use their God-given skills and can-do attitude in service to their communities - mitigating food insecurity and helping those most in need.
During the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, One Nation Dream Makers hit a record of 1,700 boxes of food delivered each week. Each one of these boxes feeds a family of 4 for a week. This means One Nation Dream Makers was able to feed over 6,800 people a week during the height of the Pandemic.
Ronnie is an expert at barbeque and is using those talents to help others, at a recent fundraiser for Goodness Village, he ran the barbeque for the event.
He got involved with the VFW and is currently the Commander of Post 7265 Livermore VFW and a member of the American Legion.
As a homeless person himself, he recently opened a “Warming Center” for the homeless in Livermore.
MLK Legacy Award Recipient - Matt Troiano
Ten years ago, Matt was the was the co-founder of the Annual Tri-Valley Thanksgiving Dinner held at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Dublin, where hundreds of people in need of a place to go for Thanksgiving can receive a delicious turkey dinner on nice linen and china, served by happy volunteers. Matt organizes the kitchen and makes sure everything is cooked to perfection, after two years of Covid cancellations, fortunately, the event resumed this year.
He has been heavily involved with Special Olympics as a basketball and track coach, raised funds by participating in the Polar Plunge and was on the Special Olympics State Committee for two years.
He has helped veterans by volunteering at the Livermore Veterans Hospital and at the East Bay Stand Down to help homeless vets.
He has supported the Livermore Homeless Refuge with clothing drives, bag lunches and providing cooked meals.
He has been a coach for Little League baseball, Pop Warner Football and youth soccer and was named Citizen of the Year in 2009 by the City of Dublin.
Matt has been an active member of St. Raymond Catholic Church and with the Diocese of Oakland Pastoral Council as a member and president. He has been a member of numerous committees, councils, and events. He was District Deputy of the Knights of Columbus and very active in all their events and activities too numerous to mention.
Matt is a big, friendly, humble man, when he gives you a hug, it’s like being hugged by a big Teddy Bear.