Team DUI was founded in 2007 by Judy Thein and members of local law enforcement and social services organizations in an attempt to curb deaths from drinking and driving and stop underage drinking.
Thompson and a host of local citizens and officials from around Lake County met for the ceremony in the council chambers at Clearlake City Hall Wednesday morning.
Along with Team DUI members, in attendance were Supervisor Ed Robey, Kathleen Smith (representing husband, Jeff Smith, who was out of town), county Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox, Clearlake Vice Mayor Chuck Leonard and Council member Joyce Overton, Lakeport City Council members Ron Bertsch and Roy Parmentier, Konocti District Board Member Mary Silva, Clearlake Chamber of Commerce board members, Clearlake City Administrator Dale Nieman, former Lake County Supervisor Louise Talley, Alcohol and Other Drug Services (AODS) Director Kristy Kelly Director of AODS and representatives from the Victim-Witness Division of the District Attorney's Office.
Thein, who welcomed those in attendance, explained that it was a personal tragedy that led her to working with the group.
In December of 2005, her 36-year-old daughter, Kellie, was killed in a vehicle collision in Lassen County caused by a drunk driver.
Thein said her daughter's tragic death fired in her a passion to save lives and help other families avoid losing loved ones to drinking and driving.
Despite the sorrow of losing a daughter, Thein said “goodness has emerged” from her daughter's death, because out of it was born Team DUI, which she said has proved to be a very empowering movement.
The group has spearheaded three local underage drinking ordinances, accepted by both cities and the county; brought Mothers Against Drunk Driving to the county and supported two “Every 15 Minutes” programs to area high schools.
One of Team DUI's most important accomplishments, said Thein, is its ability to open up lines of communication between parents and their children.
Team members, all of whom have had alcohol impact their lives in some way, each fulfill a different goal, said Thein.
Their work, she added, is causing people to take another look at personal accountability. “Our team has made a major difference throughout Lake County.”
Since its founding the group and its members have been honored with a Stars of Lake County Community Award for Best Idea earlier this year, and in June received the County Alcohol and Drug Program Administrators Association of California's 2008 Prevention Award. In January Thein received the California Friday Night Live Partnership's Super Star Adult Ally Award for her efforts in the group.
“Today I can stand here and say I understand why my daughter's life was taken,” Thein said, explaining that her daughter's legacy of love and advocacy for children has inspired Team DUI.
Thein called forward Team DUI members to acknowledge them. They included Clearlake Mayor Curt Giambruno; Wendy Jensen; Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck; Pastor Larry Fanning; Loretta Krentz, Tom Clements and Chief Allan McClain of Clearlake Police Department; AODS Administrator Laura Solis and staffer Carrie White; California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia; Michael Rupe of Lake Family Resource Center; District Attorney Jon Hopkins; Crystal Martin of Victim-Witness; Konocti Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Bill MacDougall; Harriet Rogers, Konocti Unified School District safety coordinator; Amy Osborn, counselor at Lower Lake High School; Lower Lake High School Principal Jeff Dixon; County Counsel Anita Grant; Russell Perdock of the Lake County Sheriff's Office. Journalists Denise Rockenstein and Elizabeth Larson were included in the group for their efforts in covering Team DUI.
Thompson congratulated Thein and the group, and remarked on how hard it is to be a parent. He said he couldn't imagine rallying as Thein had after the loss of a child, and taking one's grief and forming it into something positive.
He said that while Thein lost a daughter the community gained an advocate in heaven.
Thompson then presented Thein with letters of congratulation from US Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and gave her a framed copy of his message of congratulations to Team DUI, which he read on the House of Representatives floor and which was entered into the Congressional Record.
Before the ceremony was over, Chief McClain stepped forward to offer Thein congratulations and support on behalf of city staff.
“The city thinks of itself as a family and as a family we feel your pain,” he said.
He then presented Thein with a bouquet of flowers which he said was also an expression of staff's pride in her work and that of Team DUI.
E-mail Elizabeth Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org.