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One man’s legacy to fight evil by giving kids a chance

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POSTED May 25, 2010 2:07 a.m.
Antone Raymus played a mean game of pinochle.

He also loved to tell stories especially those that had a point.

And perhaps a few of his stories have had as much impact on as many people as one he told of his days attending class at the old Summer Home School.

Antone was a young son of Portuguese immigrants struggling in school. It wasn’t just because he had to work on the farm like most kids back in The Great Depression who attended the long-gone rural school east of Manteca that once stood at Cottage Avenue and Southland Road. In his case it meant helping with dairy cows before and after school.

Antone was failing miserably in class. His frustration was growing by the day. It was at Summer Home where a teacher had Antone stay after school. She took the time to tutor him one-on-one until a light went on. Young Antone was not only thrilled that an adult other than his parents took the extra time to pay attention to him and help him but that he was also able to open the door to a whole world of possibilities.

Years later he recalled how those one-on-one sessions made him feel like he was king of the world.

Antone definitely built upon those hours spent in tutoring plus the work ethic and concern for others instilled in him by his parents. The legacy that most see are in the thousands of homes he built, the generous donations that gave the community the Raymus House and the Manteca Boys & Girls Club as well as numerous individuals and churches that benefited from his generosity during his lifetime.

But one legacy will live on through generations to come making that commitment by a teacher to invest extra time tutoring a struggling kid to touch tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives by the time all is said and done. That legacy is Give Every Child a Chance.

The free community-based tutoring servcie that Antone founded came about after years of struggling to find an answer to how to avoid a repeat of a scene he witnessed while on a tour with fellow Manteca Kiwanis Club members of the California Youth Authority facilities north of Manteca. An angry young man - just barely past 18 - picked up a heavy object in a shop and heaved it against the wall. Raymus was haunted for years by what he saw.

He kept asking himself why such a young man would be that angry and what could be done to prevent other young people from being that lost

Raymus toyed with a lot of ideas. He thought about commissioning a book to tell how to help young people or perhaps make a movie trying to tell the story he wanted told. But then one day the two separate events came together - the time a teacher spent tutoring him one-on-one as a child and that angry young man he saw at the CYA.

That anger, Raymus reasoned, was born out of frustration. And without an education, trying to do anything is life is frustrating.

Ultimately that led to him bring community leaders together and bankrolling Give Every Child a Chance with $300,000 of his own money. Educators were skeptical. More than a few community leaders said they participated in his brainstorming sessions only out of respect for what he had done for the community.

But a funny thing happened.

A man who remembered that as a kid an adult believed enough in him to take the time to help him ended up believing in kids he never met.

Today close to 2,000 youth are touched by Give Every Child a Chance every year in Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop, Escalon and nearby communities. Volunteer tutors much like Raymus’ teacher from the Great Depression are responsible for a tremendous turn around in the lives of young kids who were struggling in school and looking in all the wrong places, such as gangs, for acceptance.

That is how you turn the tide. You invest your time in youth.

One gesture to help has the power to gain momentum and power as it ripples through the ages.

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