Individuals, organizations and businesses that have strived to make their community better were recognized for their efforts on Saturday.

The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce put on its annual Beautiful Bakersfield Awards Gala, held at the Rabobank Convention Center. The event included more than a dozen awards, several speakers as well as a dinner.

While awards were given out such as Nonprofit and Business of the Year, other awards were distributed to an individual or group based on subject, including architecture/design, arts and culture and education.

One of Saturday’s winners was the Jim Burke Education Foundation, which won in the Young Adult category.

Through its Dream Builders program, high school students were tasked with creating a video presentation to be viewed in all of the high school health classes in the county about the dangers and realities of human trafficking.

“We’re really proud of them,” said Spencer Lewis, associate director for the Dream Builders program. “To have them be recognized is another indication of how hard they worked and the impact that they’ve made.”

Valerie Hashim attended the awards to support the Kern Dance Alliance, as she serves as the vice president of the alliance’s executive board. The organization nominated for the Nonprofit of the Year award.

“This is so special to us. There are so many fabulous nonprofits here,” she said. “To be able to have all these people and organizations all under one roof and celebrate their uniqueness is fantastic.”

Luanne Santos, who works as a program coordinator for the county’s Employers Training Resource department, said she came to support one of her staff members, NaTesha Johnson.

Johnson was nominated for the Humanitarian of the Year award for her work in helping youth at America’s Job Center in Bakersfield.

“She loves working with the youth, the underserved, the ones who are alone,” she said. “She’s always reaching out to them, showing them the path to make a better life for themselves.”

Santos said she’s happy that the Beautiful Bakersfield Awards Gala recognizes people who do good in the community.

“It’s good for people to be recognized for their efforts, even if that’s not what they’re seeking and they’re just doing it out of the goodness of their hearts,” she said.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 661-395-7368. Follow him on Twitter: @JLuiz_TBC.

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