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An agent of change to help save pets

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Crystal Downs, right, greets guests during the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce mixer she hosted Wednesday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED January 14, 2012 2:17 a.m.

Name: Crystal Downs

Job / title: State Farm Agent

Birth date
: June 24, 1960

Age: 51

High school
: Bardstown High School in Kentucky

What were high school activities: That was a long time ago, but high school was very fun for me.  I was active in several clubs and sports. My favorites were student council, judo and band.

Teacher who made the biggest impact on you: Mr. Sham, he was a math teacher with different methods. In our little town in Kentucky, diversity of culture was very unusual. Mr. Sham was from Iran and embraced his uniqueness and challenged his students to be better in every way. He focused not only on the subject matter, but also on presentation skills at the chalk board, neatness and values.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in a small town in Kentucky.  My family is still in Kentucky. My father comes from a family of 14 children, so I have lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. When my grandmother died in the 1970s, I remember the local radio station saying she was survived by over 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As an only child, these cousins meant the world to me. I’ve always been drawn to animals, so as an adult I’ve rescued many dogs and cats from the streets and from the shelters.  They have so much love to give and lessons to teach. My pets have taught me to give more than I take, when you focus on giving your time and resources, the world has a way of giving back in unexpected ways.

What did you learn from your parents? Oh my God, I am so lucky to be 51 years old and to still have both of my parents. I grew up in a disciplined environment which I both hated and loved. I hated the rules and schedules because my friends were allowed to roam more freely, but I ended up loving the rules because the discipline helped me in my life.

What’s your education after high school? University of Kentucky, a.k.a., the college basketball center of the world! I attended the School of Engineering and got my Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. I have always been drawn to math and numbers. My first job was at IBM in San Jose. I worked there for 10 years, the last three years was in the Sales and Marketing organization. This is where the second phase of my education began, less focus on math and more focus on people.

What’s your pet peeve?
I’m not sure if it is a pet peeve but I have a couple of wishes for people – No. 1. I wish people would spay or neuter their pets. Before they buy their next pet, I wish they would visit our new Animal Shelter on Main Street in Manteca or visit Pets & Pals or Delta Animal Shelter. There are so many wonderful little animals needing homes. My second wish is to help parents and children learn more about money. As an example, I see many people save enough money to buy something, something that loses value, something that will eventually wear out. For example, save $1,000, spend $1,000. My wish is to teach them how to save $1,000, then turn that into a safe and stable future where they can eventually afford the home, the life and retirement they deserve.

New Year’s resolution, if any: To be a better leader and mentor to my State Farm associates.

Favorite book: Eat, Pray, Love. I was amazed at how she communicated with her audience.

Favorite movie: Sister Act and Ghost with Whoopi Goldberg...she makes me laugh so hard.

How long have you been in Manteca? What changes have you noticed as of late around town? I’ve been in Manteca since 2002. Over these 10 years as I have become more involved in the community, I realize the hard work so many people are putting in to try to make this a better place. The biggest changes that I see are the job losses and loss of homes. What is amazing to me is how hard so many people are working to hold it together. My business is a good indicator of the economy. For the most part, Manteca people are cheerful and happy to see us; we are very blessed to work with so many hardworking, amazing people in Manteca.

When not working, what’s your favorite activity or activities: Anything to do with my dogs and I like golf because it gets me outdoors and I meet new people.

Who do you most admire
: My parents – they’re loved by so many people.

The best advice you can give someone: Save, save, save your money!

What do you like most about your job:
I like the people. I love my team, Sheila, Suzy, Coleen and Pam. I love my clients, our mottos is to “increase the financial knowledge of everyone we meet.” We work every day with people who need someone to talk to about their finances. We definitely are in a position to make a difference in our community.

Do you have any favorite childhood memories? My best friend, Katie – every day (was a joy) with her.

Vince Rembulat
staff reporter

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