Antioch Special Needs Student Earns “Courage Award”


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A Contra Costa Office of Education student at Deer Valley High school, Emilio, was presented with an Award of Courage last week after his outstanding speech at the 7th Annual Crab Feed for The Network of Care on March 9. Emilio spoke in front of 400 people about his work filling bags each week and how this cause is helping him to reach his vocational goals.

According to Janet Frazier, co-founder of The Network of Care Program and the Stephanie Marie Frazier Memorial; they invited a volunteer to speak to give the event a little different flavor.  The group thought special needs volunteer would be a good fit.

“We were thinking about something different instead of just the same speakers, we wanted to incorporate some of the volunteers. The idea came about to see if one of the special needs children would speak… not all of them are able to get up, but Emilio did great,” said Janet Frazier. “I was teary eyed because it touched me from an emotional standpoint. I was speechless and amazed at what he did. He was so brave.”

While the speech brought the room to its feet with a standing ovation, Mrs. Frazier was quick to point out it’s the special needs students volunteerism that really is incredible—currently, a group of 9 fill bags each week.

“Everyone who is around the students when they fill the bags their jaw drops. You leave there with a smile on your face. It’s incredible,” explained Frazier.

Julie Duncan serves as Emilio’s teacher and shared that he is now in his second year of volunteering with The Network of Care. She is proud of the award, but says that the work he is doing packing bags is helping him towards his vocational goals.

“He is gaining skills working as part of a team and together. To stay on task and be assertive for signing up for jobs he would like to do each day. He also goes to Kaiser Walnut Creek and Sutter to gain perspective for what he does. It’s really helping the community,” said Duncan.

It was after the event that The Network of Care decided to honor Emilio because of what he accomplished. They are also looking at incorporating more volunteers into next years event.

“Janet said wow, he showed courage and we should honor that,” explained Duncan. “We created an on the fly award because the audience gave him a standing ovation. It made such a huge impact; it was a way to honor him. Next year, we want to include more students at the crab feed.”

Teachers aid Teri Sousa shared the enthusiasm of Frazier and Duncan as she called the volunteerism and award a good thing for the students.

“It’s been a win-win situation for the Network of Care and special needs children filling bags as it gives them experience,” said Sousa.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier, co-founder of the foundation but had to drop off the Board after being elected to the Assembly, held Emilio’s speech in high regards.

“I was completely blown away by his passion for helping our foundation and how brave he was to speak in front of 400 people. He shared what he does as a volunteer for the foundation to a group of people and it brought a tear to my eye,” said Jim Frazier. “Emilio was so brave to share how proud he was to be working as a volunteer.”

Here are a few photographs from The Network of Care event on March 9 when Emilio spoke.

The Network of Care Official Website:

About The Network of Care

The Network of Care program is a program of The Stephanie Frazier Memorial Foundation, a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. The foundation relies completely on donations from the community and a caring group of volunteers.

Volunteers put together bags of non-perishable foods and distribute them to community hospitals with pediatric wards. Nurses and social workers hand them out to families whose child has been suddenly hospitalized. The gift of food provides strength, support and comfort to families under an extreme circumstance.

Large Meal Bags: Designed for families that have been or are going to be at the hospital for a longer period of time. The bag has enough food to sustain a small family through one meal. A typical Bag includes: cup of noodles, ravioli or stew type of item that is microwaveable, granola bars, Jello and/or fruit cups, cookies and crackers, and utensils.

Small Snack Bag: The smaller bags are designed for parents who may just need some snacks while they are waiting to speak to their child’s doctor before they can visit the cafeteria.


  1. This brings a smile to my face seeing a special needs teenager getting an award. Great job network of care and keep on packing those bags for those who need it.

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