Teens among San Mateo county heroes

Two 16-year-old students on a quest to provide sporting equipment to low-income students, a nun who counsels prison inmates and a former drug dealer turned treatment-center-founder are San Mateo County’s nominees for the 2007 Jefferson Awards.

On Tuesday, San Mateo County’s Board of Supervisors honored two of the winners — Junipero Serra High School students Ian Keane and John Blickenstaff. Sister Marguerite Buchanan of Catherine’s Center and David Lewis, co-founder of Free at Last in East Palo Alto, will be honored at the Oct. 16 board meeting.

Keane and Blickenstaff were named San Mateo County heroes for raising more than $10,000 worth of sporting equipment, which they then donated to De Marillac Academy in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood; Bayshore Elementary School District in Daly City; and St. Charles Borromeo School in San Francisco’s Mission district.

The teens, classmates at the San Mateo all-boys Catholic school, came up with the idea on their own.

Buchanan, who joined the Sisters of Mercy 56 years ago, provides spiritual counseling to male inmates at San Quentin State Prison and female inmates at the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin. She founded Catherine’s Center in San Mateo in 2003 to help women struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of addiction, incarceration or abuse.

Lewis, a former San Quentin inmate himself, transformed his life, and in 1993 founded Free at Last, a drug treatment program in East Palo Alto dedicated to serving local residents affected by incarceration and HIV/AIDS.

tbarak@examiner.com

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