Bob Snyder honored as 2011 McCann Award recipient

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal features editor
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It’s time to celebrate Bob the Builder. Bob Snyder, who has had a hands-on part in too many community projects to count in the 15 years he’s lived in Auburn, has been picked as the 2011 Vernon Gould McCann Award winner. The McCann Award, considered Auburn’s top honor, is named after longtime Auburn Journal business manager Vernon Gould McCann and is given yearly by the Journal to mark a lifetime of service benefiting the community. “It’s hard to imagine because it’s a very prestigious award and I’m humbled by it,” Snyder said. “I hope I can live up to it because it’s a wonderful award. I still haven’t been able to wear it comfortably. It doesn’t fit quite yet.” This former Auburn mayor and city councilman’s past and current involvements include Leadership Auburn, Project Auburn, the Auburn Fire Safe Council board, the Auburn Chamber of Commerce and its committee on government affairs and economic development, Auburn’s Meddlers, Foothills Habitat for Humanity, the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center. Want to see examples of his work? Look no further than the Maple Street billboard, which he helped rebuild, or the Auburn Gateway Tower, the mineshaft tower-inspired monument that greets eastbound motorists about to arrive in Auburn. He also recently worked with area ROP students to rebuild the Recreation Park lifeguard building, and is working with the Auburn 49er Lions to construct a shade structure for the Auburn Police Department. “Since Bob’s arrival in Auburn he has stepped right into the ideals of Vernon Gould McCann and has been a driver in the promotion and betterment of the community,” Harvey Roper, the 2008 McCann Award winner, wrote about Snyder in his nomination letter. “He is an idea guy, team member, and hands-on contributor and provider of countless hours of skilled labor in community projects.” Cheryl Maki, 2010 McCann recipient and fellow former Auburn mayor, said Snyder deserves much recognition for his community involvement. “I think he is a perfect reflection of what Auburn is about,” Maki said. “He came here in the ’90s, he hit the ground running and he just keeps working. He’s done more in his short time here than some people have done in their whole lives.” Snyder, who has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UC Berkeley and a master’s in planning and public policy from UC Irvine, moved to Auburn to serve as construction manager of the Winchester Country Club project. “It turned out to be spectacularly better than I imagined,” he said of the move. Snyder and his wife Stephanie met Annabell McCord, former Auburn mayor, at church shortly after moving to Auburn. “She just took us under her wing,” Snyder said of McCord. One of the initial ways Snyder got involved with the community was by joining up with Habitat for Humanity. He served on the local board for a decade and said he has Habitat for Humanity to thank for one of his favorite projects and proudest moments. Habitat for Humanity constructed a house on High Street a few years ago. The crew finished work in November, and knew the family would be moving in around December. “A few of us who had been on the project decided to surprise them with Christmas — presents, the tree, decorations, food — and that was really special, to see how the house would be used,” Snyder said. One project tends to beget the next one, Snyder said. “All you have to do is take one step forward and you’re involved,” he said. If you have any time at all, there’s wonderful ways to contribute.” Snyder is always happy to lend a hand when asked when it comes to projects that contribute to the betterment of Auburn, a place he feels is one of a kind. “We have a wonderful tradition of doing things here through community involvement and I hope that’s preserved forever,” Snyder, 70, said. “I think it’s the history of people coming here and making better lives for themselves. When someone has an idea they’ll pursue it and make it happen.”