For over 40 years, Elissa Shanks Stewart has planted her roots deep in Vallejo with community service, particularly with the Vallejo Sister City Commission and Association.
On Saturday, the city of Vallejo decided to install a tree with roots dedicated to Stewart.
Stewart was one of about 50 people in attendance at Blue Rock Springs Park for the tree dedication. The honor is for members with outstanding work on behalf of the Sister City de Vallejo movement.
The criteria for selecting who will receive this honor are decided by the members of the Tree Dedication Selection Committee, which is made up of past recipients, Eric Lindquist and committee chair Pelton Stewart. For the selection process, you must have …
- Had at least 10 years of service to the Vallejo Sister City movement
- At least 10 years of membership in the Vallejo Sister City Association
- Chaired at least two NorCal Sister City events / conferences
- Participation in at least two international NorCal Sister City conferences
- Monitoring of the code of ethics policy
Stewart did all of this and more, but was always humble in receiving his honor.
âIt’s good because it’s the culmination of all my work with the Commission and the Twin City of Vallejo Association,â said Stewart. “Over the past 40 years, I’ve done a lot of things, but you don’t think about it while you do it and you don’t go into it for rewards.”
Stewart said his main inspiration for helping people with the commission came first from Diji Christian, who also dedicated a tree to him in 2011 at Vallejo City Park.
âWe were in the Bay Terrace area and there were a few Japanese teenagers and I wanted to help them. Diji said that I should join the Association of Sisters of the City of Vallejo. She is my main inspiration because she was so enthusiastic about her work and world peace. We were therefore perfectly suited to each other.
So what is it that drives Stewart 40 years later?
âI love when people come to me and tell me that I am an inspiration to them,â said Stewart. “It makes me want to know the details and know exactly what they want.”
Many people spoke at the tree dedication and congratulated Stewart, including the Vallejo City Sisters Association and Commission Chairman William Kim who had a tree dedicated to himself and Yolanda Kim in 2017 at Blue Rock Springs.
âShe’s very strong, committed, proud and says what she thinks,â Kim said, laughing for a few moments. âShe loves meeting people and the Warriors basketball teamâ¦ I admire her strong family support and love which I am sure helped her beat breast cancer. So this tree that we are dedicated to today is not just for Elissa, but for the entire Stewart family. “
Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell also thanked Stewart for his hard work.
âTo get one (a tree) you have to complete a lot of levels. She did and this tree is planted in her honor, âsaid McConnell. âIf the Sister City Commission keeps up the good work of planting all these trees, you are going to beat the beautification commission. She’s been in all but one of the sister cities, so we’ll be adding more to make sure she doesn’t stop.
The sister cities of Vallejo are Trondheim, Norway; Akashi, Japan; La Spezia, Italy; Baguio, Philippines; Bagamoyo, Tanzania; Jincheon gun, South Korea, while the friendship towns of Vallejo are Muji-gun, South Korea; Rota, N. Marina Islands; and Ensendada, Mexico.
Brenda Blumfield, who also has a tree dedicated to her, also thanked Stewart.
âI could go on and on about her, but the schedule isn’t long enough for me to mention everything she’s done,â Blumfield said, to applause. “She is the Maya Angelou of friendship and love.”