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Jose Trejo

Jose Trejo, shown behind the grill at his Lompoc restaurant, is the second nominee for this year's Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

Jose Trejo, owner of the Super Grill restaurant in Lompoc, has been announced as the second nominee for this year's Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

"I was 5 when we came from Mexico," Trejo said in explaining his motivation for donating to dozens of causes. "I saw my parents struggle. I think it's good giving back to the community."

Trejo graduated from Lompoc High School in 2001 and immediately after began a job with UPS. Four years later he started a second job in a family food truck with his cousin. Later on, he left UPS to work for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County while still working for the family food business. It was with the foodbank that he spotted a scene which he has not forgotten.

"I didn't know there was that much need for food," he said. "One rainy day in Santa Maria, people just kept coming out for food. I thought, 'Oh wow, I didn't know.'"

Trejo has given to adult soccer teams; to boys and girls youth teams; to individuals to help pay medical bills; and he's given sponsorships as well as food, according to the Peace Prize committee.

A friend thanked him one time saying a lot of people won't help like he does, the Peace Prize committee reported.

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"I think that's what Lompoc is missing," Trejo said. "There's not a lot for the kids. If more merchants would help, we could get more kids off the street. There's a lot of substance abuse going on. We can let them know there are other things."

Trejo follows Guadalupe Perez of IMPORTA immigration services on the nomination list. Eight more will follow them before the Dec. 1 deadline for nominations, according to the organizing committee.

The current prize holder is Keith McLellan, an emergency services chaplain.

This is the 10th year for the Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize, which is awarded each year by the Valley of Flowers United Church of Christ. All nominees receive certificates, and one of them gets to keep the 25-pound copper and oak prize for a year.

The 2019 prize will be awarded during a public ceremony scheduled for Jan. 26, 2020, at the Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ in Vandenberg Village.

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