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Small communities show they have big hearts

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POSTED October 25, 2010 1:07 a.m.
The letter was simply addressed to the Manteca Bulletin with a hand-written note that it was mailed attention to my name.

Inside was a simple typewritten note to me: “Enclosed is a check for Richie Guillermo (sic) could you please forward it to him or to whoever is handling the fund? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.”

The note was signed, “Pete Paulsen”.

The check was for $200 with the memo field stating that it was a “donation from HRP.”

HRP is Hot Rod Party which held its 21st annual popular event at the Paulsen Ranch at Bowman Road in Lathrop on Sunday, Oct. 10. Days before the event, businessman and promoter Pete Paulsen called me and said that he would like to set aside that amount from their fund-raiser this year for the Guillermo family. He had read the story in the paper about the death of the 38-year-old mother of three young children – a 3-year-old girl and not quite 2-year-old twins – and wife of a stay-at-home young man who was laid off from his plumber’s job two years ago. The children’s father, Richie Guillermo, was trying to raise money to get his van repaired – the transmission went kaput a week before his wife’s surgery. She died of complications following surgery.

Paulsen’s Hot Rod Party, which also features arts and crafts plus tri-tip barbecue offerings for a picnic lunch at his ranch, has been mainly donating the proceeds to the Mary Graham Hall and the St. Joseph’s Cancer Foundation where he was once a patient. But Paulsen said he was touched by the plight of the Guillermo family and decided to cut a check for them from this year’s Hot Rod Party proceeds.

And sure enough, this weekend, the mail brought in the check for the Guillermo family. When I contacted Richie Guillermo’s childhood friend, Brian Corcoran, who coordinated last week’s drive-thru dinner fund-raiser at Fagundes Meats and Catering in Manteca, he was genuinely surprised but nonetheless very overwhelmed. After the unbelievable support from the community that came out for the drive-thru dinner – 540 tickets were sold – Brian was not expecting to hear another good news from someone who is a complete stranger to the Guillermo family and friends. “Wow!” was all the correctional officer could say. He and Richie Guillermo grew up “like brothers” from their years at Sequoia Elementary School to their graduation at Manteca High and on to the present.

While the check came from the Hot Rod Party fund-raiser, each penny in that check came from the hundreds of people who paid for the various attractions at the extravaganza which included special appearances by Candy Clark who was Debbie in the iconic movie, “American Graffiti,” the Port City Roller Girls, and rock and roll musicians who were the host deejays, Johnny “T” and Wolfie. It was their patronage of the annual event which raised the money for the various charity projects.

At the Fagundes Meats drive-thru dinner, Brian Corcoran said many of the people who came to pick up their boxed meals did not just pony up the $12 for each meal; some didn’t have to buy any of the food. “A lot of people just donated,” he said. Fagundes Meats Tommy, who regularly does the barbecuing at the butcher house, even donated his time cooking the dinner for the fund-raiser, Brian said.

Small towns truly have mighty big hearts.
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