For the past 20 years, the Three Rivers Lions Club has celebrated Recognition Night as the annual Thursday night kickoff for Jazzaffair. The gala evening has featured Lions cook shack dinners and some hot jazz served up for the early arriving badge holders, who for several days, have been circling their RVs at Lions Arena to claim their favorite sites.
Along the way, Recognition Night also evolved into an event for jazz fans and locals alike to honor outstanding members of the Three Rivers community who give selflessly in the volunteer spirit that makes Jazzaffair unique on the festival circuit. Since the award was started in 1995, honorees have represented a diverse group of individuals – all of whom have one thing in common.
That one commonality is dedication to year-round community service that over time becomes what defines their lives here in Kaweah Country. As folks grow up or grow older in Three Rivers, they learn to serve by example. It’s who we are and in Three Rivers it’s a big part of the community identity.
2014 honorees— Peter Sodhy and Leah Catherine Launey are the husband-and-wife team who will be the focus of Recognition Night 2014. She is a mediation attorney; he is an administrator for the nonprofit Pro Youth/HEART after-school programs. They have lived in Three Rivers since 2006, where they operate their home as Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast.
Their conduit for community service is their church, the local chamber of commerce, Comfort for Kids (a group that makes quilts for Children’s Hospital Central California patients), and any organization that promotes music (both have performed with bands in the past).
Peter is the president of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce and is on the board of the local Emergency Aid Alliance.
Leah has been a director for the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce for six years, is on the Tulare County Symphony Association board, a member of the 1st Saturday organizing committee, and recently became a Volunteer-in-Patrol for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
Together, the couple organizes the Hero Appreciation Months, which offers discounts to members of the military and emergency-services personnel at businesses throughout town and various other activities and awards ceremonies.
In a 2012 interview with the Commonwealth, Peter put it this way:
“There is so much opportunity to get involved and have a direct hand, along with your neighbors, in shaping your neighborhood and this town. The level and volunteerism and participation is actually quite refreshing compared with the disinterest and apathy of larger urban areas. This is a gift to those of us who have chosen to make this place our home, one that we must nurture if we want to preserve the treasure we find here in Three Rivers.”