Announcing Contra Costa County Heroes

The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter today announced the recipients of its Contra Costa County Heroes Awards, all of whom will be honored at the Contra Costa County Heroes Breakfast on Friday, October 5 at the Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville. The annual program celebrates everyday heroes, recognizing those local individuals and organizations that make a difference in their community through acts of extraordinary courage and kindness. This year’s honorees include the following Contra Costa County citizens and organizations:

Act of Courage Hero

  • Gurmail Billa selflessly put himself in harm’s way to help out a police officer who was attacked by several gang members in Hayward.
  • Act of Kindness and Philanthropy Hero – Individual

  • Doug Stewart is the founder of Central County Outreach in Martinez, where he has made it his mission and has dedicated countless volunteer hours to solve the homeless crisis.
  • Animal Rescue Hero

  • Monika Helgemo has been the Animal Services Manager at the Antioch Animal Shelter for the past 24 years but continues to develop fostering programs while volunteering to administer care for puppies, kittens and ducklings in her own home.
  • Community Service Hero, Individual

  • Laura Graham, a junior at Bishop O’Dowd High School, created 1 Closet, a program which collects gently used and new clothing that has helped over 800 low income teenagers in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties to date.
  • Community Service Hero, Organization

  • Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team (SAR) is one of the busiest teams in the county with 59 members donating over 44,000 hours of community service to SAR missions, medical event support, public relations and training.
  • Lifesaving Hero

  • Randy and Kyle Harrell, son and father, risked their own lives to save their 96-year old neighbor and family dog whose house was on fire in Martinez.
  • The actions of these Heroes embody the principles and ideals of the Red Cross’ humanitarian mission. For more information or to purchase tickets for the Heroes Breakfast event, please visit: This event benefits Red Cross disaster readiness and relief efforts in Bay Area.

    About the Heroes Awards Program

    People in the Bay Area make a difference in the lives of others in their communities every day. The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter and civic leaders from six counties in the Bay Area are joining together to celebrate everyday heroism, recognizing those individuals and organizations whose extraordinary acts of kindness and courage make them heroes. American Red Cross chapters around the country hold events in their communities to recognize acts of heroism by local residents and pay tribute to those who have performed lifesaving acts. Each year, nearly 900 people attend events in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Solano Counties to honor local heroes. For more information about the events and corporate sponsorship opportunities, please visit All proceeds from the events support the disaster preparedness and relief efforts of the American Red Cross in the Bay Area.

    About American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter

    As a community-based, humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter provides relief to those affected by disasters and empowers individuals in our community to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. By helping people in the Bay Area learn how to take care of their families and neighbors, the Red Cross strengthens the community and makes it ready for all types of disasters, including home fires, earthquakes, wildfires and health emergencies. Call 1-888-4-HELP-BAY (1-888-443-5722) or visit to learn more. You may also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

    Media Contact:

  • Pooja Trivedi
  • Cell: 510-300-7146
  • 24-Hour Media Hotline: 415-427-8800