Four finalists announced for 2014 Wilsonville First Citizen award

This year, local volunteers Ben Altman, Donna Bane, John Budiao and Christopher Shotola-Hardt belong in the Winners’ Circle.

That is to say, they are the four finalists for the 2014 Wilsonville First Citizen award, which is presented by the Rotary Club of Wilsonville. A citizen panel, including past winners, chose them from nominations submitted by members of the Wilsonville community.

The finalists will be honored, and a winner will be announced, at Winners’ Circle: The 2015 Heart of Gold Celebration, which will be held Saturday, March 7 at the World of Speed Museum, 27490 S.W. 95th Ave., Wilsonville, Oregon. Tickets to the gala awards dinner and auction are $50 each or $400 for a table of eight. They can be purchased online at, in person from any Wilsonville Rotarian, or from Doris Wehler (503-682-0426).

As noted by club President Mary Stewart, this will be the 15th annual edition of the banquet, which was started in 2001. “The Heart of Gold dinner has honored many outstanding volunteers over the years,” she said. “These four community servants are worthy additions, and we are looking forward to recognizing their contributions to making Wilsonville a better place to live.”

Proceeds from the event support the numerous projects of the Wilsonville Rotary Foundation, including local omelet breakfasts to raise funds for schools, the Wilsonville Chess Program to help students learn discipline and thinking skills, the Through A Child’s Eyes program to prevent the intergenerational cycle of crime, the Wilsonville Rotary Summer Concerts, scholarships for local graduates, fundraising to end polio, and annual projects that have brought solar energy to Africa and clean water to the Third World.

Here are biographies of each of the four finalists:

Ben Altman is a professional planner who served as president of the Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce and of the Rotary Club of Wilsonville. He and former club member Philip Yates developed the Heart of Gold Celebration in 2001, which serves as the major funding source for the club’s service projects. He planned and designed a rose garden in Town Center Park to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Town Center Park, and a plaque is located there recognizing all of the past First Citizens. Ben currently serves on the Wilsonville Planning Committee and is a founding board member of Oregon Aviation Industries.

Donna Bane is a nonprofit consultant and member of the Wilsonville Kiwanis Club. She has served as the president of the club and has played a key role in the success of the Wilsonville Kiwanis Kids Fun Run. She also helped the club bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program to Wilsonville, which provides a free book to every child in the community monthly, from birth to age 5. She has served on the board of Parrott Creek, which helps juvenile convicts find a better path and stay out of prison. Finally, she volunteers at the twice-yearly cleanup at the Beauty and the Bridge project (Wilsonville Road interchange).

John Budiao is a veteran of the armed forces and the scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 194, which is based in Wilsonville. He is responsible for overseeing around 50 scouts from ages 11–18, helping them have positive experiences and attain personal growth. He coordinates local scouting events, encourages the scouts to participate, guides them as they complete rank advancement tasks all the way up to the rank of Eagle Scout, and supports them in their effort to take on leadership roles of their own. The scouts’ projects have included participating in Veterans Day events, performing an annual proper flag retirement, Scouting for Food, Christmas tree recycling, and helping with the Wilsonville Rotary Summer Concerts.

Christopher Shotola-Hardt is an art teacher at Wilsonville High School and a professional artist who volunteers with the Wilsonville Arts and Culture Council, which is the organization that produces the Wilsonville Festival of Arts. He has served on the council for the past 10 years and is a strong believer in the ability of art to engage a community. He has also played a key role in the city-school partnership that resulted in the Beauty and the Bridge art project at the Wilsonville Road interchange.

The club is now accepting nominations for the 2015 award, which will be given in 2016. Nominations may be submitted to, or sent to