Couple recognized for going the extra mile

Canyon Ridge High vice principal Mike Gemar and his wife, JoAnn, were presented with the Extra Mile Award last week by the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.

Twin Falls teacher award
Vice principal Mike Gemar, his wife, JoAnn, and their grandchildren

The Gemars were recognized for the work they do for the district’s homeless population, making food, hygiene products and other items available to them throughout the year.

“We want to say thank you for making our community better,” said Shauna Kraus, a chamber ambassador. “It’s just great to have folks like you here, doing what you do.”

Eva Craner, another chamber ambassador and spokeswoman for the Twin Falls School District, nominated JoAnn for the award.

Because of the Gemars, a food pantry was established at Canyon Ridge High last year and more than 400 homeless students were identified within district boundaries. JoAnn said she expects that number to increase this year.

JoAnn works with the district’s 13 schools to assess the populations and implement programs to meet the needs of homeless students. A couple of Canyon Ridge students have established their senior projects around collecting food and other items to support homeless students.

The Extra Mile Award is presented annually to people or businesses that help the Twin Falls community in significant ways.

“We feel very fortunate to be able to work with folks like you who go the extra mile,” said Canyon Ridge principal Kasey Teske.

The Gemars each received plaque awards and gifts from chamber businesses.

JoAnn had a tough time holding back the tears and said “this is beyond crazy just to be recognized.”

“Canyon Ridge is a petty special place,” Mike said, surprised by the award and the crowd that turned out to honor him and his wife. Among those who were there to celebrate were the couple’s young grandchildren. “I feel a little bit overwhelmed. I didn’t know about any of this.”