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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 1:01 am | Fair 47º


First 4 Lompoc Peace Prize Nominees Named, Entries Welcome Through December

A police chief, a minister, a devoted community volunteer and the Peace Chair Project founder make up the first four nominees for the 2015 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize in Lompoc.

The nominees are Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh, volunteer Victor Bobo, the Rev. Thomas Brandenberg and Catalina McIsaac, organizers said. 

Walsh’s nomination came approximately a year after he was named chief of the Lompoc Police Department.

“Keeping the peace is inherent in my job as a police officer,” he said. “I am committed to upholding the law and securing the safety of all citizens. No one is exempt.”

Walsh meets weekly with a contingent of homeless residents at Lompoc Foursquare Church, something he started before being hired for the job.

He previously worked as a captain in the Portland (Ore.) Police Bureau.

Since starting his job in Lompoc, Walsh has built many relationships in the community. His first initiative was putting together a summit of clergy, the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the United Boys & Girls Club. He also wants hold a retail summit to improve the business climate in the city.

Bobo was nominated by Pastor Doug Conley of New Life Christian Center for an “unstinting devotion to helping others,” organizers said.

A 30-year employee of Imerys, after work he devotes endless hours to carrying out projects at the church, including taking a week of vacation to operate the taco booth at the annual Lompoc Valley Flower Festival.

Bobo also volunteers three nights at a week at the church’s homeless shelter.

“He gives like you cannot imagine,” Conley said. “Whenever there is a need, it doesn’t matter who or what it is for, he makes sure there are funds to cover it. Many times, this means he has to work additional hours to do so.”

Brandenberg, the third nominee, is associate pastor at Grace Temple Missionary Baptist Church.

Stephen Foley, supervising deputy district attorney for Santa Barbara County, made the nomination, noting that he works tirelessly to achieve peace in the community.

“In particular, he works with young people by mentoring them to stay away from gangs and a life of crime,” Foley said.

He added that Brandenberg wants to create a drop-in center for Lompoc teens to provide a safe place for youths to do homework and have fun without the pressure of joining a gang.

Brandenberg currently operates a transportation assistance program called A Little Help to give the elderly, individuals with disabilities and people just down on their luck rides to medical appointments, job interviews or court appearances — free of charge.

The fourth nominee, McIsaac, is chief executive officer and founder of Art, Peace, Imagine (API), which works to spread awareness and appreciation for art and peace.

The program began in 2009 as The Peace Chair Project. Youths from Los Prietos Boys Camp painted the chairs that provide a creative space for nonpunitive conflict resolution.

McIsaac, who also was nominated in 2014, took the local peace project to India, where the chairs became benches and the artists were girls from the Piyali Learning Center in Piyali Junction, India.

The school was established to provide girls with a haven from the harsh reality of their lives. In India, girls are married as young as age 12, and only 57 percent of girls can read and write.

McIsaac also is developing an API peace greeting card line and an API peace garden, growing, sowing and demonstrating that peace is the way.

The Peace Prize will be awarded early next year during a Jan. 31 ceremony at Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ in Vandenberg Village.

Nominations of anyone in the Lompoc area who has contributed to peace, harmony and understanding in the community can be made through Dec. 31 by contacting Allie Kay Spaulding at 805.741.7000 or [email protected].

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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