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When Cecelia Ponzini ’ s son Edward died at the age of 29 , it broke her heart . At first she coped with the grief by busying herself . Then she made a decision that not only changed her life but it created a ripple effect of positive change in the lives of others . Thinking back on Edward ’ s life , Cecelia was reminded of the kindness and generosity that was second nature to him .

“ Edward often packed extra food in his lunch and shared it with kids at school who didn ’ t have anything to eat ,” Cecelia said . “ He was just that kind of kid .”
“ Losing Edward got me thinking back to a time when I was young and struggled to make ends meet without enough food , clothing and other necessities . Without enough education to get a decent job . That was a long time ago , and I ’ ll never forget how difficult and degrading it was . But I ’ ll never forget the people here in the community who helped me back then either . That ’ s what made me realize I could be overcome by my grief or I could do something about it .”
Several years ago , Cecelia talked with her husband Gary Ponzini about her desire to keep Edward ’ s memory alive by giving back to the community in his honor .
“ Gary was one hundred percent behind me in everything I wanted to do ,” Cecelia said . And so in 2013 , she set up a nonprofit and named it the Edward Boss Prado Foundation , establishing a living legacy to honor her son .
“ I didn ’ t have special qualifications or training to set up a non-profit , but Gary knew I had the vision and the desire . Then I spoke with ( Morgan Hill ) Mayor Steve Tate . He said ‘ Cecelia , you can do this and the community will help . People will show up .’ He was right .”
“ People like Mayor Tate and his wife
Jennifer , Connie Murray , Greta and Joel Salmi , Laura Scoto and Melissa Santos helped out back then . Some of them joined the Foundation ’ s Advisory Council . And they ’ re still involved today .”
LET NO CHILD GO UNFED
Through the Foundation , Cecelia established the “ No Child Goes Unfed ” program at Morgan Hill Unified School District high schools . Students unable to afford it get a free lunch ticket at the Associated Student Body office – with no questions asked .
“ We help the kids while preserving their dignity ,” Cecelia said . “ Instead of having to stand in a special line ; they can get right in line with the other kids in the cafeteria .”
Building upon the Foundation ’ s mission , she launched Cecelia ’ s Closet and Food Pantry in 2014 . Just across the street from the Ponzini ’ s Community Garage and Towing Service , the couple had a small rental property that they converted into a base for their non-profit operations .
“ One day I looked at that property and I could just see the whole thing in my mind ,” Cecelia said . Cecelia ’ s Closet and Food Pantry provides nutritious food , hygiene kits , and new or gently-used women ’ s , men ’ s and children ’ s clothing and shoes to underserved families who are referred by Morgan Hill Unified School District , Community Solutions , Teen Force and other local organizations .
“ Our inventory is continually stocked thanks to generous donations from the community ,” Cecelia said . “ Like the school lunch program , we treat people with dignity and respect when they come to us for everyday things we take for granted . We want to send them home with some healthy food , clean clothes and a sense of hope .”
For her dedication to community service , Cecelia was named Woman of the
Year ( 2014 ) by the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce . She said the increased public awareness generated by the award led to an overflow of donations from a very generous Morgan Hill community .
Having volunteered with Cecelia ’ s organization since the beginning , Greta Salmi said , “ Cecelia brings passion , drive , and deep knowledge of what this work means to others . Her ideas are boundless and her commitment to respecting our clients is a marvelous place from which to work .”
FROM SHOES TO SCHOLARSHIPS
Ponzini established another program , Walking with Dignity , at P . A . Walsh , San Martin / Gwinn and El Toro Elementary schools . “ We donate Payless Shoe Source gift cards for the schools to provide to families whose students need shoes . The kids may only have a pair of sandals . We want them to have shoes to keep their feet warm and dry and allow them to participate on the playground at recess , in P . E . classes or in after-school sports .”
The Foundation has also helped students get vision screenings and connect with resources to get eyeglasses when needed . When prom season rolls around , girls who are unable to afford a prom dress can browse through the more than 700 that have been donated to Cecelia ’ s Closet and borrow one , along with accessories , for their big night .
In May , the Foundation ’ s “ Prado on the Go ” Scholarship Program awarded six partial scholarships to graduating seniors at Central , Live Oak , and Sobrato high schools . Cecelia personally reviewed scholarship applications and interviewed the finalists . Scholarships were awarded to Morgan Hill students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher , a letter of acceptance into college , and a dem-
GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY / AUGUST 2015 gmhtoday . com
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W hen Cecelia Ponzini’s son Edward died at the age of 29, it broke her heart. At first she coped with the grief by busying herself. Then she made a decision that not only changed her life but it created a ripple effect of positive change in the lives of others. Thinking back on Edward’s life, Cecelia was reminded of the kindness and generosity that was second nature to him. “Edward often packed extra food in his lunch and shared it with kids at school who didn’t have anything to eat,” Cecelia said. “He was just that kind of kid.” “Losing Edward got me thinking back to a time when I was young and struggled to make ends meet without enough food, clothing and other necessities. Without enough education to get a decent job. That was a long time ago, and I’ll never forget how difficult and degrading it was. But I’ll never forget the people here in the community who helped me back then either. That’s what made me realize I could be overcome by my grief or I could do something about it.” Several years ago, Cecelia talked with her husband Gary Ponzini about her desire to keep Edward’s memory alive by giving back to the community in his honor. “Gary was one hundred percent behind me in everything I wanted to do,” Cecelia said. And so in 2013, she set up a non- profit and named it the Edward Boss Prado Foundation, establishing a living legacy to honor her son. “I didn’t have special qualifications or training to set up a non-profit, but Gary knew I had the vision and the desire. Then I spoke with (Morgan Hill) Mayor Steve Tate. He said ‘Cecelia, you can do this and the community will help. People will show up.’ He was right.” “People like Mayor Tate and his wife Jennifer, Connie Murray, Greta and Joel Salmi, Laura Scoto and Melissa Santos helped out back then. Some of them joined the Foundation’s Advisory Council. And they’re still involved today.” LET NO CHILD GO UNFED Through the Foundation, Cecelia estab- lished the “No Child Goes Unfed” program at Morgan Hill Unified School District high schools. Students unable to afford it get a free lunch ticket at the Associated Student Body office – with no questions asked. “We help the kids while preserving their dignity,” Cecelia said. “Instead of having to stand in a special line; they can get right in line with the other kids in the cafeteria.” Building upon the Foundation’s mission, she launched Cecelia’s Closet and Food Pantry in 2014. Just across the street from the Ponzini’s Community Garage and Towing Service, the couple had a small rental property that they converted into a base for their non-profit operations. “O $ЁѡЁɽ䁅)$ձЁ͕ѡݡѡ)t ͅ é ͕Ё)Aɽ٥́ɥѥ́)坥̰܁ȁѱ͕)ݽḛéɕéѡ)́͡Ѽչ͕ٕ́ݡɔ)ɕɕ5ɝ!UM)ɥа չMѥ̰Qɍ)ѡȁɝѥ̸+q=ȁٕѽ䁥́ѥՅѽ)ѡ́Ѽɽ́ѥ́ɽѡ)չ䳊t ͅq1ѡ͍)չɽɅݔɕЁݥѠ)ɕЁݡѡ䁍Ѽ́ȁٕ)ѡ́ݔхȁɅѕ]݅ЁѼ)͕ѡݥѠͽѡ䁙)ѡ͕͔́t)ȁȁѥѼչ)͕٥ ݅́]ѡ)%1I=d5=I8!%10M85IQ%8))U1dUUMP)eȀФѡ5ɝ! ) ɍMͅѡɕ͕Չ)݅ɕ́Ʌѕѡ݅ɐѼ)ٕə܁ѥ́ɽٕ䁝ɽ)5ɝ!չ )!٥ٽչѕɕݥѠ e)ɝѥͥѡɕф)Mͅq ɥ́ͥɥٔ)ݱݡЁѡ́ݽɬ)́Ѽѡ̸!ȁ́ɔչ́)ȁѵЁѼɕѥ ȁ́)ٕ́ɽݡѼݽɬt)I=4M!=LQ<)M !=1IM!%AL)A饹х͡ѡȁɽɅ)]ݥѠ䰁Ё@]͠M)5ѥݥQɼх)̸͍q]єA展́MMɍ)Ёɑ́ȁѡ͍́Ѽɽ٥Ѽ)́ݡ͔Ց̸́͡Q)́䁽䁡ٔȁ̸ͅ])݅ЁѡѼٔ́͡Ѽѡȁ)݅ɴ䁅܁ѡѼѥє)ѡɽչЁɕ̰@͕)ȁѕȵ͍̻t)Qչѥ́ͼՑ)Ё٥͍ͥɕ́ЁݥѠ)ɕͽɍ́ѼЁ啝͕́ݡ)]ɽ͕ͽɽ́ɽչɱ)ݡɔչѼɐɽɕ́)ɽ͔ѡɽ՝ѡɔѡѡ)ٔѕѼ é ͕Ё)ɽ܁ݥѠͽɥ̰)ѡȁи)%5䰁ѡչѥẽqAɅ)ѡtM͡AɽɅ݅ɑ ͥ)ѥ͍́͡ѼɅՅѥ͕)Ё Ʌ1ٔ=MɅѼ)̸͍ ͽɕ٥ݕ͍ȴ)͡ѥ́ѕ٥ݕѡ)̸Ḿ͡ݕɔ݅ɑѼ5ɝ)!Ց́ݥѠA̸ȁȰ)ѕȁхѼ)ѽ乍(